Whether going through a divorce, a paternity/ child custody case or simply a modification of your divorce or child custody case, in most instances you will be required to attend mediation before seeing a judge. As a family law/divorce attorney and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, I know that mediation can be very helpful in resolving most cases. However, like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages of mediation….here are some:
Advantages of Mediation
1. Mediation is less adversarial and can be less damaging, emotionally for both sides, as well as the children.
2. The parties are in control and make the decisions – not the government.
3. The parties can be more creative in fashioning an agreement on how to parent and divide their debts and assets. A judge is limited by law to what they can do. As a result, agreements can be tailored to the unique needs of the family.
4. Parties are more likely to comply with a mediation agreement rather than an order which they don’t like mandated by a judge.
5. Mediation is confidential
6. Mediation can save time and money
7. You can pick your mediator, but you can’t pick you judge.
8.The mediator has more time to devote to the issues than a judge does, so the mediator can listen to both parties issues and concerns and can try to help the parties resolve them.
Disadvantages of Mediation
1. Mediation may result in disclosure of information and case theories to the other side. However, most of the information shared at mediation would be produced to the other side through discovery anyways.
2. Imbalance of Power may make the outcome unfair. In some situations each party has relatively equal power, however in other situations, one party has more power than the other. This imbalance of power could be due to economic resources, knowledge, personality, culture, age difference or history of domestic violence.
3. Unrepresented parties may not be aware of rights and as a result enter into an agreement that they otherwise would not have entered into. This is a legitimate concern, because unless the agreement was signed under fraud, coercion or duress, which is very difficult to prove, the agreement will be enforced.
4. Success in mediation depends on each party’s “good faith” commitment to the process which is sometimes lacking.
5. Mediation is focused on the future, so past conduct may be overlooked or minimized.
Andrew G. Storie is a family law and divorce attorney who serves Orlando and all of Central Florida. For more information, or if you have questions please visit www.storielaw.com or call us at (407) 838-0887.