Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where the couple sits down with a mediator who as an outside 3rd party attempts help negotiate a resolution between the parties. Sometimes everyone meets in the same room and sometimes the parties are “caucused” which means that each party is in their own room and the mediator travels back and forth.
This process is a good way to settle or start to settle many family law cases. In fact, the 12th Judicial Circuit that contains Sarasota, Manatee and Arcadia Counties, mediation is generally required by our sitting family law judges prior to scheduling a Final Hearing.
Because of the proven success of mediation, more and more people are recommending going to mediation first, rather than an attorney’s office. While this may work for some people, it is also very concerning for a variety of reasons. First, a mediator cannot (even if they are an attorney themselves) provide any legal advice. This means that even if the mediator knows a spouse is agreeing to something way less than they are entitled the mediator cannot say anything about it. Second, mediated agreements only contain issues that the parties discussed. So without proper legal counsel, parties generally miss issues that should be or need to be resolved which can lead to big problems later. And third, through the traditional litigation model or a collaborative divorce, the parties are able to obtain a full picture of what is marital property and the true incomes of the parties, where in mediation there is no mechanism to make sure the parties are fully informed prior to making life altering decisions.
While mediation is a very good tool to resolving family law cases it is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. If the parties hire the right attorneys and attend mediation, then the Agreement that is reached will be more complete and appropriate for divorcing couples.
Do not be pressured into attending mediation alone or prior to consulting an attorney. If you and your spouse are considering attending mediation to discuss ending your marriage, contact Mr. Bragg right away to discuss your situation and whether pre-suit mediation is right for you.
With over 20 years of combined experience in family law, we know how to navigate the system to fight for what’s right. Let us fight for you.