What is the mediation process?
At the beginning of a mediation conference, all parties will be in the same room. The mediator will give a brief introductory speech to explain the process and the ground rules. Each side will be given an opportunity to present their position. Depending on the circumstances, the parties may then go into separate rooms or may stay together. The mediator will ask many questions to gain an understanding of the areas of agreement and disagreement, as well as the primary desires of each party. Going back and forth, the mediator will discuss the situation with each party, assist in brainstorming ideas, and will present any offers a party has proposed. If an agreement is reached, it will be summarized in writing for all parties to sign.
How long does mediation take?
There is no set time limit for a mediation conference. Some will be rather fast and others may take all day. It depends on how complex the issue is and how willing the participants are to come to an agreement. Mediation is voluntary, so you can leave at any time. The hope is that everyone will stay long enough to put forth a good faith effort.
What does it mean that “mediation is voluntary”?
All decisions made in mediation are made of the free will of the participants, not the mediator. No participant is required to agree to anything, nor are they required to stay. Neither the mediator or another party shall coerce or intimidate another party into agreeing to something that they are not comfortable with.
What does it mean that “mediation is confidential, except where required or permitted by law”?
Conversations held in mediation are confidential and can only be disclosed under very limited circumstances. That applies whether you are talking to your friend or in front of the court. Florida Statute 44 provides for the exceptions where mediation communications can be talked about. Those generally relate to crimes and professional misconduct.
How do I schedule mediation?
The first step is for all parties to agree upon a certified mediator that is appropriate for your case. In Florida, there are many different types of mediators such as Circuit, County, Family, Dependency, and Appellate. The mediator must be certified in the area of your particular situation. Next, everyone will need to agree upon a date, time, and place to meet. If you would like to schedule a mediation with me for a Circuit or County matter, please call at 850-340-0581 or fill out the scheduling form. Some mediations have deadlines and providing adequate notice is helpful. It can sometimes be difficult to coordinate the schedules of many people. So, the earlier you can get started, the better. Once the schedule is set, the mediator will have the parties sign an engagement letter outlining the agreed upon terms.
How much does mediation cost?
Mediators fees vary. My fee is $200 per hour with a 2-hour minimum. Each side will be responsible for half. I do not charge a cancellation fee. Payment is due on the day of the mediation conference unless other arrangements have been made in advance.
How should I prepare for mediation?
The most important thing you can do to prepare for mediation is to decide what you need to feel comfortable settling your case. You should have some ideas prior to mediation. Think about what the alternatives are if you do not settle and how much that will cost in terms of fees, time, and stress. You can also bring with you anything that you feel will help support your position. The success of the mediation is completely dependent on the attitude of the participants. The goal is not to continue to fight, but rather to find a resolution. That requires a mindset that is seeking to end an argument.
Mediation can end in one of three ways: settlement (full or partial), impasse, or continuance. A settlement is when all parties agree to all terms. It can be a full settlement, meaning that all issues are resolved, or a partial settlement, meaning that some of the issues were resolved and some weren’t. Partial settlements can be useful to help narrow the issues to be brought before a court which reduces the time and expense of trial since some items are already stipulated. An impasse means that no agreement was reached. A continuance can happen when all parties agree to stop the discussion for the day, but will come back on a different day to try again. Sometimes people need additional time to gather or assess new information, or maybe they just need more time to think.