If the parties have not come to an agreement on all of the important divorce issues theirs would be considered a contested divorce case. Florida no-fault divorce law will let them get their divorce without having to establish any more than a minimum of (1) one parties’ 6 month continuous Florida residence at the time the case is filed and (2) that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Without children (and with the assurance that wife is not pregnant) the court will need to know that property and debt issues have been resolved as well as alimony. If there are children, parenting issues, time sharing and child support must be covered and a determination made that the best interests of the children have been protected. Without an agreement the court must have a trial and determine the issues in dispute. Trial is time consuming and expensive. Finding a way to resolve the case without trial is worth doing.
If the divorce case has already been filed in a Florida court, a contested case must be mediated before the court will have a trial. In some Florida divorce courts the parties are required to mediate any issue that is the subject of a motion before the court will give hearing time.
What is mediation and why is it such a big deal?
Mediation is a process, not an event. The process begins when the parties start talking about it and in earnest when the notice of mediation conference is circulated. A mediation conference is an opportunity for the parties to sit down with a neutral trained specialist, the mediator, who will work with the parties to identify the divorce issues and try to work with the parties to come to an agreement on some or all of the issues without telling them what the agreement should be. The mediation conference is confidential and with few exceptions (i.e. someone says something about child or elder abuse, which by law must be reported to the proper authorities) no one can disclose what was discussed outside of the mediation. Should one party try to disclose conversations that happened during the mediation conference the court will sustain an objection to their admission into evidence.
The reason mediation is such a big deal is because it works. The vast majority of cases that are mediated ultimately settle. Sometimes all of the issues are resolved at the first mediation conference; sometimes only some. But the mediation does not have to start and stop with only one conference. At the end of the day, the skill of the mediator and the parties’ lawyers, as well as the good faith of the parties in looking for a way to settle their dispute, helps bring about the high success rate mediation enjoys. Statistically, over 95% of all family cases resolve with an agreement, not by trial. Of that number, many are resolved with the help of mediation. The time and money saved by the courts insisting on mediation cannot be over stated.
Miller Law Associates handles mediations regularly. We have used many mediators to help settle our cases. Every mediator has a different way of doing things and we try and find the right mediator for the specific case we are handling at the time. The cost of mediation varies with high priced mediators charging $500/hour or more. Miller Law Associates uses very experienced mediators, with practical experience who charge as little as $150-175/hour. We try and find the quickest and least expensive way to resolve our clients’ divorce and family law cases. Visit us at www.DivorceYes.com.