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New procedural rules for family court don’t address arbitration, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that a new set of procedural rules governing family law matters here in Florida does not address the possibility of arbitration, as was allowed in some circumstances under the previous rules. This fact is lamented by some, who say that arbitration should not only be available in family law disputes in Florida, but more widely available than it was under previous rules.

Both arbitration and mediation can be useful avenues for resolving family law disputes. Both of these processes can allow parties to cut costs, maintain privacy, and have greater control over how the case is handled. Fortunately, while the new rules do not address arbitration, they do address mediation of family law disputes. 

Mediation is different from trial and arbitration in that these other processes involve the presentation of evidence and arguments before a court or arbitrator, which then decides the outcome. Mediation allows parties greater flexibility in coming to an agreement, but there has to be a willingness to communicate and cooperate. If parties are able to work out an agreement in mediation, the agreement is set down in writing and signed by the parties, making it a legally binding contract which can be enforced in court.  

The updated procedural rules allow for any family matter or issue to be referred to mediation, with certain limitations when fees are charged. The rules establish a deadline for completing mediation, and specify what the court must do, if anything, when an agreement is reached. The rules also establish procedures governing various aspects of mediation, including appointment of a mediator. Parties may, under the rules, communicate privately with their attorneys, and mediators may meet privately with any party.  Unlike the court system, communications in mediation are confidential, with certain exceptions.

Next time, we’ll continue looking at the issue of family law mediation, and how an experienced attorney can help ensure the process is as effective as possible.


Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rules 12.740-12.741

Florida Courts, Mediation in Florida: I’m going to Mediation, Now What?,” Accessed April 26, 2017. 

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