Do I Have to Attend Mediation in My Florida Divorce, Child Support, Timesharing or Paternity Case?

Written by: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

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In Jacksonville, Florida family law matters, such as divorce, paternity actions, timesharing, and child support must go to mediation before a trial can be conducted. Mediation is a court ordered process that allows parties to reach an agreement, with the help of a neutral third party, without having all issues decided by a judge.

Typically, when a family law case begins a petition for the action is filed with the court. Once the opposing party files an answer the case is then brought to court for the judge to determine a trial date and order the parties to mediation. A mediation, which is a neutral third party trained in mediating (assisting parties to reach an agreement) is ordered by the court and typically the parties will agree on who will be the mediator. If the parties cannot agree on the mediator, then the Judge will assign one to the case.

Mediation is a good tool because it keeps the decision-making on the parties and their attorneys. The parties have more control over the outcome if they can reach an agreement on the issues. If all issues cannot be decided upon, but some can, then there can be a partial settlement and the remaining issues can be heard at trial for the Judge to make the ultimate decision.

When attending mediation, it is a good idea to keep an open mind and know that negotiations are a give and take. In family law issues, emotions often run high and it is difficult to make a business decision with such emotions. If you can, it is good to have an attorney with you because your attorney can help you better process the information and make a sound decision.