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How can an attorney help ensure an effective family mediation? P.1

In our last post, we began looking at the topic of family law mediation, and some of the basic features of the process. In any mediation, it is critical to work with a mediator who is a good fit for the case to have a good shot at achieving something worthwhile. Not all mediators are equal. The differences in training and education, experience and style can be significant, and these can all impact the success of the mediation.

Under the updated procedural rules dealing with mediation of family matters, parties are allowed to come to an agreement with the court regarding the selection of a mediator in a dispute. The parties have 10 days to come to an agreement. If they cannot, the court appoints a mediator. Working with an experienced attorney can help give a party the best opportunity to select an appropriate mediator and make the most of the process. 

Effective mediation is not only a function of selecting a skilled, qualified mediator, but also requires sufficient legwork by the parties and their attorneys beforehand. An attorney skilled in the mediation process will do several things to ensure the effectiveness of the mediation process.

First, engage in sufficient discovery before mediation. Discovery is the process by which parties gather the facts of the case to support the arguments that will be made in the case. Although discovery is part of the preparatory process for trial, it is also essential for mediation, as parties are not able to negotiate as effectively unless they have sufficient information at their disposal. This is particularly true in styles of mediation which rely heavily on assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party’s positions from a legal standpoint.

In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion.

Sources:

Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rules 12.740-12.741

The Florida Bar Journal, “Binding Arbitration, Voluntary Trial Resolution, and Med-arb Proceedings in Family Law,” November 2012, Ned. I. Price, Volume 86, No.9. 

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