Filing for a divorce, even an uncontested divorce, can be accompanied by a myriad of complications. If you have both decided that you want to avoid a hearing and that you will work together to identify issues and resolutions for them, then a mediation may be your best option. A mediation is a great route to avoid mounting legal fees, a drawn-out contested hearing, and other messy complications that come with a contested divorce. Even if you do not believe that your divorce will be able to be resolved through mediation, it is always a good idea to begin with this process.
Whether you believe that mediation is a good option or not for your divorce, contact me, Attorney Antonio Jimenez, today to discuss your options, and understand how I can help you. Although I am not a mediator myself, I will represent you during the mediation by advising you on negotiating strategies, discussing the legal aspects of your case with the mediator, and educating you on your legal rights under Florida’s divorce laws. So schedule your initial consultation as soon as possible to begin working toward a positive outcome in your divorce.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Participating in a mediation is a decision between a couple to finalize their divorce on their own terms, without relying on a court to determine the most appropriate outcomes. This is done with the help of a neutral third party, called a mediator, who identifies the needs of both parties and works with them to find a solution that works for them both. This is a cost-effective way to avoid drawn-out court cases, combative disagreements carried out between lawyers, and long-term bad feelings after the final decision.
A mediation is a flexible and cooperative way that you can agree on most, if not all of, of the major issues of a divorce. Below are some of the big points that a mediator will discuss with you in an effort to negotiate an agreement that both parties will accept.
In many divorces, it is common for there to be shared marital property that needs to be distributed fairly. Florida’s divorce laws abide by “equitable distribution,” which means that the property is divided in a way that is equitable in consideration with all of the aspects of each spouse’s financial situation. This may mean that all property is divided equally, but may also mean that property is divided so that each spouse is left in a stable financial situation. This can often lead to significant disagreements between spouses, but your mediator and I will work to find a fair solution that both parties will accept.
In addition to the division of property, custody of your child or children will normally be divided between both parents. Custody is another contentious aspect of a divorce, but if you and your spouse have agreed to try to manage your divorce through mediation, I will work towards finding an amicable solution that you each find fair and that is in the best interest of your child’s wellbeing.
Child support is a separate issue from child custody, and it depends on the independent financial situation of each parent. Oftentimes, the parent with less custodial rights will give child support to the other, to compensate for their absence from the home while not interrupting the availability of financial resources for the child or children. During the mediation, I will collaborate with you and the mediator to find a financial situation that works for both parties, and most importantly for the children involved. Reaching a decision on child support and custody early on in the process can be extremely helpful for the children, because it gives them a stable home life earlier in the process while avoiding a full contested hearing.
DEBT AND ASSET DISTRIBUTION
The division of all marital assets and debts accrued during the marriage is an important and often contentious aspect of the mediation process. Some of these debts and assets may be pre-marital, and therefore, determined to not factor into the total amount that needs to be divided, but you and I will work through each of these aspects with the mediator to determine what is fair and equitable in each situation for each spouse. This, like all aspects of a divorce, can cause heightened emotions and lead to bad feelings, but with a good mediator and an experienced family law attorney, you and your spouse will hopefully be able to come to an agreement without turning to the courts to decide how the marital property should be divided.
CAN I OPT FOR MEDIATION?
If you and your spouse agree that you would like to at least attempt to reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce without involving a family court, then mediation is a great option. With the help of a skilled mediator and an experienced family law attorney, you may be able to work through issues that you previously did not think would be possible, and as a result, both parties can avoid increased costs and an extended hearing process to come to these agreements. If you both prefer to make your own decisions instead of leaving it up to a judge and the legal system, you can both maintain control of your lives and the divorce process by participating in a mediation. If your case is aleady in the court system, mediation is a mandatory requirement prior to setting the case for trial.
BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
If you are able to successfully agree on the terms of your divorce through mediation, then you will be able to file for an uncontested divorce in family court. You will be required to pay a filing fee, and the court will look to see that the terms of the divorce are legal, but beyond that, you will not need to continue with any additional court proceedings. This saves you and your spouse a significant amount of money in attorney’s fees, legal costs, and court fees. Finally, a contested divorce can cause additional damage to your relationship with your previous spouse. So, if you want to preserve this relationship while saving a considerable amount of money, it is in your best interest to pursue an uncontested divorce.
HOW CAN A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?
If you and your spouse are interested in agreeing to participate in a mediation in order to negotiate the terms of your divorce, contact my office today for an initial consultation. I will discuss the specifics of your situation and the items that need to be addressed to finalize your divorce. Once you have this information, you will have a better idea of how I will work with you during the mediation and divorce process. I look forward to hearing from you, and to helping you finalize your divorce in the quickest most efficient manner possible.