Family Mediation: A Better Way
The end of a relationship can be overwhelming even if both of you are expecting it. There are layers of anger, pain, disappointment and disillusionment. And it can be more complicated if you have children. Custody, support, time sharing, alimony, asset distribution — words most people think they will never hear suddenly become part of your vocabulary. You are spending hours of time with your attorneys and the bills are coming in. The average cost of a contested divorce in Florida is between $15,000 to $20,000. It can take as long as two years to settle. Quickly, it becomes adversarial. The world spins out of control. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is a family mediator?
A family mediator is a professional who is trained to work with people who are struggling with conflict around divorce, breakup, or distress in the family. A family mediator is a neutral third party who has no connection to either party involved in the conflict who asks questions and probes each party to think about ways in which they can view the situation to reach a resolution that will best serve everyone’s needs. A family mediator does not function as an attorney, an accountant, a real estate agent or a therapist. They cannot be called to court to testify and everything that takes place in mediation is confidential until the agreement is put into writing and signed by all parties. All present parties in the mediation are bound by confidentiality. Your privacy is protected. If you go to court that is not the case. All your business becomes public knowledge because it’s being heard in a public court in front of a judge.
Who can benefit from mediation?
People who are in the process of dissolving their relationship and want to do that in the most reasonable way possible. A married couple, domestic partners or the parents of children trying to resolve time-sharing issues. Mediation can help you come to an agreement about parenting, assets and personal belongings and can do so with less hostility and anger. Families in distress who need someone to help them work out anger issues, custody issues, parenting concerns or extended family problems can all benefit from mediation before getting involved in the complex and expensive legal system.
What are the mediation options?
Pro Se – There are no attorneys involved and you want to proceed in the least complicated way possible. It is your choice to avoid the high cost of legal fees except to have an attorney review your agreement. You want to have a mediator help you reach an agreement and then you file the paperwork for the divorce petition. Often called a DIY Divorce.
Pre Suit – You have filed for a divorce, but you need to work out the details of your new family structure and the financial situation. You hired an attorney to review your documents, but you don't want the attorney to do any negotiating for you. Hiring a mediator, gives you control over the decision-making process. A mediator facilitates that process.
When should you hire a mediator?
Before the emotional, financial, and spiritual destruction of a lengthy legal battle takes its toll on you and your family. Mediation is a better way. When you go to court, a judge who does not know you or your family can make the decisions that will affect all of you for many years. Hiring a mediator is better than going to court. When you work with a mediator, you can tamp down the harshness and maintain control of what happens to your family. A drawn-out legal battle is costly, painful and serves no one.
My family is not what most consider "traditional."
Today's families choose to come together in many ways. People form a cohesive group that works for them, where they support and love one another and make room for differences. I am comfortable with a non-traditional family and understand the need for every family to have an agreement that will create an equitable structure for all members. There may not be a "legal" marriage, but the parties have personal effects or children, and they want a structured document that defines how they will manage going forward. Very often, that can include pets which Courts define differently from State to State. However, those definitions do not change the fact that owners have strong emotional bonds to their pets and that must be considered in break-ups.