Divorce Mediation in Florida: Who Picks It and Who Pays for It?
March 25, 2016
Parties going through a divorce often struggle to communicate over the simplest of issues. Trying to determine who gets the TV, who gets the sofa, or how to split a retirement account can lead to hours and hours of disputes. Arguing over each issue during a court hearing is an expensive and inefficient way to deal with many of these issues, however. Florida has a better way.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process that allows parties and their lawyers to come together outside of a courtroom and talk about the issues. A trained mediator assists the parties in having a productive discussion by guiding and facilitating the conversation. A mediator cannot tell the parties what they have to do, and the mediator cannot take sides in the dispute.
How Are Florida Mediators Paid?
In Florida, either party can request mediation, or the court can order it. Mediators are certified by the Florida Supreme Court, and they are trained to follow the rules on neutrality and evenhandedness. The cost of the divorce mediation is based upon the joint income of the parties. If the parties' income amounts to less than $50,000, each party must pay $60 per session. If the parties' income totals $50,000 to $100,000, each party must pay $120 per session. For parties whose income adds up to more than $100,000, the parties must hire a private mediator and pay an agreed-upon fee. In any case, both parties are required to file a financial affidavit, so the court can determine the appropriate cost for the mediation sessions.
What Issues Are Covered During Mediation Sessions?
Mediation sessions can cover all of the issues in a divorce. A mediator can help parties can come to an agreement on child custody issues, including child support and visitation rights, the division of assets and debts, and alimony. If the mediation results in an agreement, even if it doesn’t cover all of the issues, the agreement can be filed for court approval. Though the court typically approves agreements, if the agreement is clearly unfair, the court may elect to enter a different order or request additional evidence during a hearing.
It’s important to prepare for a mediation just as you would prepare for a court hearing. You should know what issues you need to discuss, and what you would like as a settlement. A qualified attorney can help you understand your rights and prepare for a mediation.