At some point in a divorce proceeding parties may request, or the Court may order mediation of the case. Mediation is a process for resolving disputes that allows parties, with the help of a mediator, to come to an agreement on contended issues.
A Florida Supreme Court certified mediator conducts the mediation according to rules and statutes requiring mediators to:
- Remain neutral – not biased toward either party
- Not force either party into an agreement
- Always work for the mutual good of the parties.
Mediation opens lines of communication and allows parties to explore all settlement options in order to resolve disputes. Everything said during mediation is confidential and (except as provided by law) may not be repeated to anyone other than the other party and/or the party’s attorney. Mediation gives parties more control over the outcome of their case, normally allows the case to be resolved sooner, and can save on the overall expense involved in the case.
The cost of mediation is based on Florida Statutes, and provided at a reduced rate for parties with a combined annual income under $100,000. The current rate is $120.00 per party, per session for parties whose combined income ranges between $50,000 and $100,000 and $60.00 per party, per session for parties whose combined income is less than $50,000. You must file a Financial Affidavit with your case so that the fees can be established. All fees must be paid to the Clerk of Court in the county of filing, prior to the mediation. If the combined income of the parties is $100,000 or more, they must select a private mediator and pay an agreed upon fee - directly to the mediator.
During mediation parties work on an agreement of issues including:
Division of Assets & Debts - What is a fair and equitable distribution of the assets required and debts incurred during the marriage? Who will get what? Who will pay for what?
Alimony – Will either party seek permanent alimony, lump sum alimony, or rehabilitative alimony for a specified time?
Other Entitlements – Are there any other entitlements, such as retirement earnings, to be considered or divided?
Shared Parenting Plan – If children were born or adopted during the marriage, what is an agreeable shared parenting plan?
- What will be the arrangements and schedule for visitation with the children?
- How much child support will be paid? Will it be by agreement between parties or per Florida Statute?
- How much life and/or health insurance for the children will be provided by either or both parents?
- Who will pay for uncovered medical and/or dental expenses?
- How will future education costs be shared or provided?
If the parties reach agreement on all issues and file a Marital Settlement Agreement prior to the mediation, they may request a waiver of mediation and refund of fees through the Clerk of Court.
If the court orders you to attend mediation, you will receive an Order of Referral to Family Court Mediation in the mail. Along with the court order will be a list of family mediators under court contract, who are trained in family mediation and certified by the Florida Supreme Court. You should select a mediator from that list, and contact them to schedule mediation. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator from the list, Mediation Services at 850-595-4482 can assign one to their case.
You should contact the mediator right away to schedule the mediation. Per the court order, parties have a certain number of days to complete the mediation. When you call to schedule the mediation, make certain to inform the mediator of any pending Domestic Violence Injunctions involving you or the other party.
If the mediation session results in a mediated settlement agreement, it will be filed with your case and copies provided to each party. You will then need to file a request for hearing to get a hearing date set, or further instructions to proceed with your case.
Parenting Coordination provides a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process whereby a Parenting Coordinator assists the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan, by facilitating the resolution of disputes between the parents through education, guidance and appropriate recommendations. If the parties are court ordered to Parenting Coordination and give prior approval, they may also make limited decisions within the scope of the court's order.
Below is the circuit's list of qualified Parenting Coordinators; specifically approved for their credentials and training, to provide this service in our four-county area. The court does not contract with these individuals, nor fund any of their services. Parties that are court ordered to Parenting Coordination, or voluntarily seeking this service should contact the Parenting Coordinator directly for information on their fees and payment schedule.
List of State Certified Mediators
Mediator List by Residing Circuit
List of Circuitwide Contracted Family Mediators for First Judicial Circuit
Circuitwide Family Mediators - First Judicial Circuit
List of Parenting Coordinators
First Circuit Parenting Coordinators
Alternative Dispute Resolution Center