Broward County Mediation Lawyer
One of the most frequently asked questions our office receives is “I don’t want to compromise with my soon to be former spouse or other parent of my child. When can the Judge hear my case?” The answer is not until the end of a case. Mediation is a required component of all contested family matters. Unless parties enter into a Settlement Agreement, mediation will occur prior to appearing before the Judge.
Pursuant to §44.1011 and 44.108 Fla. Stat., and Fla. Fam. L. R. P. 12.740, et seq., Judges have the authority to order all contested family matters and issues to mediation. To help make mediation more accessible to all parties, Chapter 2004-265, Laws of Florida, amended 44.108 Florida Statutes. Mediation is statutorily defined as “…[A] process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties.” It is an informal and nonadversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. The mediator has no decision making power. Any agreement reached will be by mutual consent of the parties. A written agreement that is signed may be filed and submitted to the court with the parties consent.
For each case referred to family mediation, parties eligible for court provided mediation shall select either privately retained mediation or court provided mediation services. Parties not eligible for court provided mediation shall select their own mediator and hold a mediation conference in accordance with the order of referral. In accordance with Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.741 (b)(6)(A) and Rule of Civil Procedure 1.710(f)(1), eligible and non-eligible parties may choose their own mediator.
Court Provided Mediation Services
To determine eligibility for court provided mediation, both parties must submit a current Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit – 12.902(b) Short Form or 12.902(c) upon receipt of this notice. The financial affidavits must be notarized and filed with the court. Parties deemed otherwise eligible for court provided mediation may also opt instead to retain private mediation, in which case the mediation fees below will not apply.
Mediation Fees are established by statute and are as follows: $60.00 per person per session in family mediation when the parties’ combined gross income is less than $50,000.00 per year. $120.00 per person per session in family mediation when the parties’ combined gross income is greater than $50,000.00 but less than $100,000.00 per year. Any party may pay any other party’s mediation fee.
If the parties choose their own private mediator, they may select a mutually acceptable mediator from the list of certified mediators upon a stipulation with the court or by selecting a mediator who does not meet the certification requirements, but who, in the opinion of the parties and upon review by the presiding judge, is otherwise qualified by training or experience to mediate all or some of the issues in the particular case. Parties must select a mediator and notify the Court of their selection. The parties and the mediator agree upon a fee, and the parties pay the mediator at the time of the mediation. The parties must coordinate with the mediator a date and time of mediation and notify the Court. Staff will also prepare notices reflecting your coordinated date and mediator selection. Mediation conferences generally last three hours unless otherwise requested.
What happens if we don’t come to any agreement in mediation?
The mediator will file a mediation report saying the case resulted in an impasse. We will then need to you will go back to court and the judge (or jury) will make a decision for you.
Akilah Harris, Esq. prefers to settle cases amicably rather litigating in front of the Judge. Her experience in settling child support, paternity and dissolution of marriage cases has proved successful for her clients.
I Successfully Represent Clients in South Florida
Help Begins With An Initial Consultation
To discuss your case with me and find out how I can help, contact me today at (954) 451-0050 or by email. Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request. My fees are meant to be affordable. Payment plans are available if there are no court dates scheduled. Credit and debit cards are accepted.