When going through a divorce in Florida there are options beyond going to trial. Mediation and other forms of negotiations can be helpful to the parties because it can help the parties have some control over the outcome of their divorce versus leaving all decisions up to the judge. In negotiations, the parties have the ultimate say in the outcome of their divorce, while in a trial, all decisions are made by the judge. As previously discussed this week, forms of negotiations available to the parties are pre-filing mediation; collaborative divorce; an uncontested divorce; filing for divorce and then going to mediation. As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I think understanding these concepts can help spouses determine what is in their best interest and their children’s best interest as they part ways.
In review, pre-filing mediation is basically when both parties agree to attend mediation prior to filing for divorce. This is a time for the parties to find out what stands between them and a settlement agreement and to see if they can work through those differences. A collaborative divorce involves both parties having attorneys and fully disclosing all items to one another in hopes of resolving all issues in the divorce before filing. The process uses a neutral third party to assist in the process and can use financial outsiders and parenting coordinators to effectively reach an agreement.
So, what is an uncontested divorce? Basically, this is more of the process that parties may take with each other depending on what terms they are parting. Sometimes, parties can actually discuss the issues of asset division, retirement division, alimony, marital property and the like and ultimately decide; on their own, how they want things divided. Going this route does not mean that you should not consult with an attorney. You want to make certain that you are not leaving anything pertinent out in your negotiation, but also you want to make certain that the final agreement is drafted in a way that is legally enforceable. If you can speak with your spouse about these things, then you may want to schedule a joint meeting with an attorney to discuss where you are and to ultimately have the agreement drafted with the proper legal language.
Finally, what is post-filing mediation? Here, you or the other party has already filed for divorce. The process may be moving forward to trial, but in Florida, the courts generally require the parties to attend mediation. This type of mediation occurs after the divorce has been filed, after discovery or the exchange of financial information, asset information, debt information and the like has been completed, and the only thing left before trial is mediation. The reason for this is that mediation has proven to be a place where the majority of parties can reach an agreement on all pending issues in their divorce, thus not requiring a judge to make the ultimate ruling. This is really a chance for both parties to negotiate before trial to see if all issues can be resolved.