By Jose Medina, Esq. | Divorce
Judges know that most cases will settle at mediation. That is why mediation is not only recommended, it’s mandatory. Yes, you may go to court and pay for an attorney, only to find out that your case will ultimately be settled in mediation. Of course, not all divorces can be settled this way. Many times a judge does need to step in.
Divorce, or as it is officially known, “Dissolution of Marriage” is a legal breakup. It is final. Many people are surprised to learn that they cannot obtain a divorce and deal with all other matters (time-sharing, child support, division of property, etc.) at a later time. Everything gets worked out at one time. That is why divorces can be so highly charged. This is especially true if one side was unfaithful.
Florida, unlike many states, has adopted a “no-fault” requirement for obtaining a divorce. That means your reason for wanting a divorce is generally not relevant. You don’t have to show abandonment or mental cruelty or any other horrible reason. You just have to show that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That is the legal term. It means that there is no reasonable chance that the marriage can be saved.
Beyond the “irretrievably broken” criteria, you must show that either you or your spouse have resided in Florida for at least six months. That’s the easy part. The more difficult thing is to have the terms of the divorce spelled out. There are two ways that this happens.
The first way that the divorce terms are reached is by you and your spouse entering into an agreement that settles all issues – this happens most often at mediation.
The second way is to have the court make the decisions for you during a trial. Having the court decide is the last resort. Sometimes there is no other way; but most of the time, court intervention can be largely avoided. That is why mediation is not only recommended, it’s mandatory because judges know that most cases will settle at mediation.
Oftentimes, our clients tell us they want us to be “aggressive” and don’t understand why we want to attend mediation. Let’s talk about why we think early mediation is better than being aggressive:
By attending mediation as soon as practical (that is, after we have exchanged enough information with your spouse to become well informed about your assets and liabilities), we can shorten the length of your overall case. The less time your case takes, the less money you have to spend on attorney’s fees and court costs.
Mediation is a place where you and your spouse will be given an opportunity to discuss your concerns in an effort to reach an amicable resolution. The alternative is scheduling a trial before a Judge or General Magistrate.
You never know how a trial will go. You never know what decision a Judge or General Magistrate will make. When dealing with your family life, your assets and your liabilities, we prefer to take the safer route, as these are decisions will impact your day to day life. Wouldn’t you want to have as much input as possible, rather than allowing a judge to make these decisions for you?
Mediation also benefits your children. Attending mediation affords you and your spouse the opportunity to discuss the impact that your divorce will have on your children and gives you an opportunity to reach a time-sharing schedule that keeps the children’s best interests in mind.
The sooner you and your spouse can attend mediation, the sooner a schedule can be formed to create a sense of stability for your children and help your children feel secure during this transition.
If you are at all intrigued by the idea of mediation versus traditional litigation, then I encourage you to read about how you can avoid litigation altogether on our divorce mediation page.
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