Basic Mediation Information
References in this article are for family and circuit court cases. Requirements for mediation in county court may be different.
In the last 10 to 15 years, mediation has become an essential part of the civil law system in the State of Florida. Without it, our overworked courts would be overwhelmed and the civil justice system might well grind to a halt.
Mediation is the process by which individuals who have a dispute, whether in a civil or family law case, meet with a mediator to try to resolve their differences without having a trial before a judge, and in some cases, a judge and jury, if applicable.
The mediator is a neutral person, usually an attorney, with a minimum of five (5) years experience practicing law. The mediator must also attend a mediation course, taught by seasoned professionals. The mediation course is very thorough and lasts about forty (40) hours. The mediator is usually agreed upon by the attorneys in the case. People who have a dispute, but are not represented, may also use a mediator.
Mediation is mandatory in all civil and family law cases filed in the State of Florida. No civil of family law case may go to a final hearing unless the parties have first attended mediation.
Mediators facilitate communication between the parties to a dispute. Mediators allow the parties to a dispute to explore all avenues of settlement in a cordial and professional environment. Mediators help the parties to a dispute, by explaining the law to the parties when necessary. Mediators cannot and do not impose or force a settlement in a case.
Mediation has many advantages. Some of which are: the cost of mediation is much cheaper than a trial in a case. Mediation costs are equally divided between the parties; the parties have the power to settle a dispute and therefore, feel empowered when they settle, rather than a Judge or Judge and Jury imposing a verdict upon the parties; attending mediation is far less imposing and intimidating than going to trial; all that is discussed in mediation is confidential. You can speak freely and not have it used against you. Therefore, there is no risk and a lot to gain. Mediation can bring closure to litigation, which may take a very long time before going to trial. With court dockets, plugged with cases, it can take months, sometimes years, before getting to trial. However, most mediators are available on relatively short notice, to attempt to resolve cases; and mediation allows for creative solutions to complex problems, which a court may not consider.