Family Mediation & Choosing Your Mediator

In Palm Beach County, Florida, legal costs are on the rise, as are the number of divorces. Today, one of the cheapest and most effective ways parties are getting divorced is thorough family mediation. Once a spouse has filed for divorce, whether they have an attorney or not, they are able to participate in the informal process of mediation in which both parties have the ability to compromise and come to a fair agreement.

Mediation is a confidential process in which the mediator works as an impartial and neutral member to empower the parties to make their own decisions and choices, in order to reach a fair agreement.

What are the benefits?

In mediation, each party has full decision making ability; opposed to in court, where both parties surrender their decision making abilities to the judge. Typically, a default timesharing schedule will be given to divorcing families with children, which doesn’t always work for all families.

In conclusion, mediation is a great way for the divorcing spouses to build their own timesharing plan that fits their schedules and lifestyles. Especially for children who may need additional accommodations. The other great benefit is that if both parties feel as though there is a revision that needs to be done to the settlement agreement, you are able to contact the mediator to revise the agreement as soon as the mediator can meet with you and the spouse!

For spouses who are seeking alimony, mediation is a great way to work a deal that is acceptable for both spouses, where the judge may not be able to hear all the arguments or devote the time necessary to accomplish this, leaving one spouse feeling that the arrangement is unfair.

Do I need an attorney for Mediation?

Although it is recommended that both parties be represented by an attorney, it isn’t required. Some parties without attorneys, also known as “pro se”, proceed to mediation with attorneys and settle the same way they would with counsel. It is recommended to have an attorney for divorcing spouses who have a lot of assets to divide. It is important to remember, mediators are not allowed to give legal advice.

I really don’t think I can be in the same room with my spouse during Mediation!

If you think you can’t be in the same room as your spouse, that’s okay! Mediators will typically split up parties if they are unable to cooperate when in the same room. Both parties will be in separate rooms and the mediator will commute between the two to resolve all issues and come to an agreement. In these cases, it would be highly recommended to have an attorney.

 Who is the mediator?

A mediator is an individual that is either a mental health professional or a professional with a legal background who has gone through an extensive 40 hour training. The training involved in becoming a Supreme Court certified Family Mediator takes 40 hours plus a number of mediation observations. Here at Psychological Center for Expert Evaluations, Inc. our Supreme Court certified Family Mediator is a masters level social worker is also a member of the Association for Family Conciliation Courts (AFCC) which is premier interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.  AFCC members are the leading practitioners, researchers, teachers and policymakers in the family court arena.


 Who pays for the mediation?

To avoid any conflict or disagreement, both parties pay for their own fee. Every mediator has different ways of charging their clients, such as a fixed fee or a sliding scale fee that is  based on you and your spouse’s income. For example, the courthouse charges $60 for those who make $0 to $50K per year or $120 for those who make above $50K per year. Private mediators usually charge anywhere between $150 to $250 per person, per hour with a 3 hour minimum.

How do I find the right mediator?

When choosing a mediator, be sure they have the background you’re looking for. Some couples prefer a mediator with a background in mental health to help solve issues and have a smoother path to an agreement, others may prefer a legal background, although mediators with legal backgrounds are not allowed to provide either party with legal advice.

Will mediation save my marriage?

Mediation is not couples therapy, even if the mediator you choose has mental health issues. The mediator is there to facilitate and guide you and your spouse towards making a decision about your divorce and its details. If you feel as though you and your spouse would benefit from couples counseling, seek out a mental health professional who specializes in these issues, preferably prior to reaching the point of mediation.

 How do I get started?

Your first step would be to speak with your spouse to confirm mediation is a choice that you both agree on. Once you come to an agreement, you can contact our agency, or a variety of other local agencies, to speak with the Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator about how to set up your first appointment!

Date: May 26th, 2013 | Categories: Child Custody Evaluations, Family Law | By: | Comments: 0

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