In Florida, the parties will have the opportunity to resolve their case on their own even before going to a final hearing in court. The judge will refer the parties to mediation. Mediation is a process that allows the parties to negotiate with the help of a neutral and skilled professional mediator who are certified by the State of Florida. Mediators are typically lawyers, counselors, counselors, phycologists and other professionals. The goal of Mediation is to help the parties settle the case without the necessity of a trial.
Matters discussed in mediation are “confidential.” They cannot be brought up at trial, and the mediator cannot be called to court to testify to anything said in the course of the mediation. This confidentiality allows the parties the freedom to make offers of settlement and proposals that they might otherwise be afraid to make for fear that they might be used against them later in court.
If Mediation is successful, the parties will sign a “Mediation Agreement” that sets forth the terms of the agreement. The Mediation Agreement is submitted to the Court for approval and incorporation into an Order.
If the parties are not able to reach an agreement at Mediation, the Mediator will report only that the parties did not reach an agreement (referred to as an “impasse”). The parties will have their day in court. A final hearing will be scheduled to allow each party an opportunity to present evidence to the court. The judge will make a final decision how to resolve the parties’ differences.