Many couples looking to divorce envision a courtroom setting where they can air out their grievances and emotional baggage and show the judge why they deserve to get more. Litigating some divorce cases may be beneficial; however, for many people it ends up being a costly endeavor that just leads to more heartache. Individuals lose control of the decisions and choices they can make and the judge ultimately decides each person’s fate and what share of the assets, property, and debts each party goes away with. The judge will also rule on child custody, timesharing and parenting schedules.
Couples often regret not taking advantage of the mediation process more and utilizing mediation to make their own decisions. In Florida, divorcing spouses typically have to attend mediation before going to court. Even if all the issues are not resolved at mediation, the process can help narrow and limit the matters to be litigated. Couples who focus on the benefits of mediation generally find it to be a far more rewarding process than litigation, which is stressful and expensive.
Mediation involves the spouses, oftentimes with their representative divorce attorneys, and a neutral mediator discussing all the aspects of the marriage dissolution. A mediator lays out the ground rules before the discussions begin and goes over the goals each person wants to achieve. In cases where emotions run high it is common for the parties to be in separate rooms, with the mediator acting as the go between, to help parties reach a resolution. Generally, each party has to be willing to compromise on some issues; however in the exchange they gain the peace of mind of knowing the outcome of the process.
Getting divorced has a huge impact on each person’s finances, relationship with their children, and even their living arrangements. Before mediation begins, each spouse must provide financial affidavits and disclosure of all assets and liabilities. Additionally, if there are children, each party should have some idea of what they are looking for regarding parenting plans and timesharing.
A Florida Supreme Court certified family law mediator can oversee the process, is trained in family law issues, and has the background to help move the discussion forward. Typically, divorce mediations can be concluded in one session. In more complex cases it may take several sessions, which is still more time efficient and cost effective than a courtroom battle that can take months if not years. Any agreements reached at the mediation will be written down and signed by the parties. This agreement will generally become part of the final judgment of the dissolution of a marriage.
Marcie L. Baker is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator at Alston & Baker, PA. To contact a Tampa Bay Divorce Mediator, Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, or Zephyrhills Family Law Attorney, call 1.888.500.5245 or visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.