What can I expect at a mediation conference?
Posted By Posted by Kelly Candela on Apr 20, 2015 8:55am PDT || Apr 20, 2015
Mediation conferences happen in almost every single family law case in Florida, both in initial case and post-judgment cases (those re-opened for a modification). Mediation conferences usually take place after all or most of the necessary discovery is exchanged. Exchanging discovery before mediation is important, as it allows you and your attorney to review the finances of the marriage, as well as everything else that was provided. Before your mediation conference, you should meet with your attorney to determine what your goals are, and exactly how far you are willing to negotiate on each issue in your case. Having this meeting in advance of the mediation conference is important, as without it, you will end up spending time during the mediation conference discussing these topics instead of negotiating.
When you arrive at the mediation conference, you and your attorney should be placed in a room alone, while your spouse and his or her attorney will be placed in a separate room. The mediator will go between the rooms, discussing the case with each room individually. Mediations typically start with a brief introduction, when the mediator explains their role, the confidentiality limits of mediation, and gets some basic information about the issues in your case. Once this introduction is complete, you and your attorney will discuss your position on the issues in your case with the mediator, and may explain why you hold certain positions. Giving the mediator some perspective can be helpful, as it will aid them in advocating for your position with your spouse. However, if you disclose information you do not want your spouse to know about, the mediator is required to keep this information confidential, and will not tell your spouse.
The goal of mediation is to leave with all of the issues in your case resolved, and a signed agreement to submit to the court. Depending on the complexity of your case, your mediation could take a few hours, an entire day, or longer. The most important thing to remember is that it is your mediation – your attorney is there to support you, to advise you on the law, and to advocate for your position. The mediator is there to negotiate an agreement between you and your spouse. You are the only one who can decide if you are going to accept or reject an offer or an agreement, which is why mediations are such useful tools in family law cases. This kind of power does not happen in a trial, when the judge, who is a stranger to you, decides how your life is going to be resolved. Mediations are one of the few ways that you can continue to control how your case is decided.