Focus on the future – not the fight.
Focus on the future – not the fight.
Below are some frequently asked questions. If we've missed yours, please reach out to us below.
MEDIATION PROCESS: Mediation is a voluntary and an informal process. As mediators, we have no authority to make decisions or impose settlements. Instead, our goal is to facilitate your discussions and assist in the negotiation process to help you explore a mutually acceptable resolution. We will not provide legal advice, testify in any future court proceeding, or present this case in court. For additional information regarding the mediation process, please review the information provided on the website sponsored by the Florida Courts.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVILEGE: Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the mediation process. We will treat all information disclosed to us before and during mediation as confidential, except where disclosure is required or permitted by law. Additionally, the two of you and any other persons who attend mediation are also required to keep all mediation communications confidential. A breach of this confidentiality may be subject to remedies. As part of our commitment to the confidentiality of the process, we will not voluntarily testify in court and any person who subpoenas or otherwise compels a mediator’s testimony shall be solely responsible for the mediator’s related legal fees, expenses, and time spent.
PARTICIPATION OF OTHERS: Participation at mediation is limited to the husband/father and wife/mother. If you agree, other people who may be integral to the process may also attend. We suggest that this be arranged at least 24 hours in advance. Children should not be brought to the mediation session.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Before your divorce is final each of you will be expected to fully disclose your financial information to each other and to the court. We will assist you in preparing financial affidavits if you choose the Full Service Package. Basically, the financial data falls into four categories – income, debts, assets, and expenses. Now is a good time to begin thinking about and gathering this information and/or running a credit report. If possible, please bring any relevant financial information with you to mediation. If you have minor children of the marriage, we will request the income/debt portions of the Financial Affidavit be completed by each of you prior to mediation.
SEPARATE SESSIONS: If at some point during the mediation process we believe that a separate session with either of you (in person, by phone, or via email) will aid the negotiations, we will call for a separate session. Either of you may also request a separate session. Please let us know, at the end of these separate sessions, if you would prefer we not discuss with your spouse some or all of the information you shared with us during the separate session.
Mediation works essentially the same in divorce cases as it does in other kinds of civil cases. You and the other party meet with the mediators, in a confidential setting, and the mediators helps the two of you try to reach a deal to resolve the issues in most divorce cases. The most common issues in divorce mediation are:
The mediators may meet with both of you together, individually with each of you, or go back and forth between you. The mediation may also take more than one session, depending on how much time is initially scheduled and how quickly the both of you are able to reach an agreement – if you do.
One big difference between divorce mediation and most other kinds of mediation is that a court is ALWAYS involved even if the parties reach a deal. You cannot just agree to be divorced; the court has to order it. Florida law makes it relatively easy for people who are not represented by attorneys, but who have entered into an agreement that works out all the issues, to get a divorce. There are some forms you and your (soon-to-be) ex-spouse must complete. You can find a list of these documents H E R E (please note, some circuit courts have specific versions of the forms they want you to use, and they may also require other forms, so check with your local Clerk of Court).
Neither one of you is required to have an attorney to file a divorce, but the divorce mediators of your case – even if he or she is an attorney – cannot represent you or give you legal advice in connection with the divorce.
No. In Florida, mediation is based on the principle of self-determination. So, you (and the other party or parties) to the mediation decide whether there is a deal and, if so, what the terms of that deal may be. If you don’t agree, there is no deal, and the dispute will be resolved in court.
Note: “Settle” isn’t a “four-letter word.” Just because you don’t have to reach a deal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seriously consider it. During mediation, it is not uncommon for the mediator (and your attorney, if you have one) to point out the many reasons why it might make sense for you to settle the dispute in mediation, rather than take your chances in court.
Among the most common reasons people choose to settle at mediation are:
Having said all that, the ultimate decision, about whether and under what terms to settle at mediation, rests with you and the opposing party or parties.
Only you can answer that question.
The mediator isn’t your lawyer. Even if the mediator is an attorney, the mediator is there as a neutral third party. The mediator does not represent any party in this matter and cannot give any legal advice to either of you.
If you are not currently represented by an attorney but you have legal questions about the divorce (including what you might be entitled to if you were to go before the Judge on a contested, attorney-driven divorce, or what to accept as a “good” settlement), we suggest you consult with an attorney before the mediation, so you may make informed decisions during the mediation about whether and under what terms to reach agreement. Many attorneys will speak with you on a consultation basis (hourly rate), rather than a full “I’m going to represent you in court” basis (retainer).
In family mediation, you are also encouraged to consult with an attorney prior to signing your Marital Settlement Agreement (including Parenting Plan and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet as appropriate), you may also choose to have an attorney and/or an accountant review your agreement.
It varies, depending on the type of case, whether attorneys are involved, whether the parties are trying to resolve the entire dispute in one session or over multiple sessions. Other than small claims court mediations – which usually only last about half an hour, mediation sessions usually range between two and six hours. In divorce mediation, it is not uncommon that you will actually have two or more mediation sessions, each lasting about two – three hours.
A Florida Supreme Court certified mediator is someone who has completed classroom training, has met certain minimum educational and experience requirements, has completed additional “on-the-job” training, and has passed a limited background screening. Such a certified mediator is also required to stay current with mediation practice through continuing education.
There are two other important reasons to use someone who is certified. Florida Supreme Court certified mediators:
To obtain an uncontested divorce Florida, there are additional costs you will need to pay to the appropriate agencies. Some of these costs or charges are listed below. These costs are NOT included in our Package Fees.
We always recommend consulting with an attorney to answer questions about your rights in connection with a proposed divorce. Counsel can help you understand your rights and those of your spouse.
If you meet with an attorney, we recommend you ask (among any other questions you may have) the following question: If contested, what do you believe would be the best and worst case scenario if this went before a judge?
By asking that question of an attorney, you will get a better understanding of what you might face if there were no agreement between you and your spouse about how to address the various issues that come up in the divorce context. That information helps you determine what you might be willing to offer or to accept in divorce mediation.
If there is a premarital agreement (we’ll call it a “pre-nup” here) and it is valid and enforceable (see, e.g., Fla. Stat. Section 61.079, entitled “Premarital Agreements”), then its terms would, barring certain circumstances, direct how the parties had already agreed to handle equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, spousal support, etc. in the event of subsequent dissolution of marriage. UNLESS, as defined in Section (6) of that statute: “AMENDMENT; REVOCATION OR ABANDONMENT.—After marriage, a premarital agreement may be amended, revoked, or abandoned only by a written agreement signed by the parties. The amended agreement, revocation, or abandonment is enforceable without consideration.” If you have questions about any of the above information, we encourage you to see counsel.
Otherwise, it is up to the two of you:
…then our process is not a good fit for you and we would recommend you seek counsel (representation by a lawyer in a traditional divorce litigation process where a lawyer is involved to ensure your rights are protected).