Mediation Services in Orlando
Mediation is a chance for individuals in a dispute to jointly resolve issues as they see fit. Mediation is typically required in both Family Law and Personal Injury cases prior to having a case heard by the Court or a jury. While some may view mediation as simply a hurdle to get before the Court, in truth, mediation is a useful tool for purposes of negotiating and disposing of some or all of the issues in a case. Further, there is no resolution in mediation unless all the parties agree. Unlike having a judge or a jury decide your case, in mediation you are the ultimate judge of whether an agreement will be reached or not.
In addition to representing clients for purposes of mediations, The Smith Family Law Firm, P.A. will also act as the mediator in cases in which it is not representing either party.
Roy J. Smith, IV, is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator in both Family Law and Circuit Civil disputes with a background in not only Family Law but personal injury, auto-accidents, medical malpractice, and first-party insurance disputes.
Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law mediators are trained in the process of mediation and dispute resolution. However, it must be remembered that not all family law mediators are family law attorneys. The family law mediator is not present to give legal advice. In fact, even if the individual being utilized as a mediator is a family law attorney, he or she cannot provide legal advice to the litigants or to their attorneys. Instead, the mediator dedicates himself to the process and attempts to facilitate an environment conducive to identifying issues and reaching mutually agreed-to resolutions.
The mediator does not decide your case. No one can be forced to enter into a mediated settlement agreement. Mediation will either resolve in a full agreement, a partial agreement, an impasse (mediation was unsuccessful), or an agreement to return to mediation at a later date either due to time constraints or the need for more information.
Each mediator has his or her own personal style. Mediations typically begin in a joint session with the parties, the attorneys and the mediator present for the initial instruction. These initial instructions can also be handled in caucus (separate rooms) if the parties do not wish to be in the same room, if one party feels unsafe, or if the mediator prefers to handle the mediation in this style. The initial instructions are essentially the same from mediator to mediator consisting of an introduction, describing mediation, describing confidentiality, and laying out ground rules for mediation.
After the initial instruction the mediator will ask for opening statements, although this is not always necessary. In some mediations the attorneys may have already given the mediator facts regarding the case. The parties will then attempt to find areas of agreement or compromise. The mediation may shift from a setting where the parties are all in one room, to an arrangement where they are in separate rooms and then brought back together.
While it is understandable for parties to be nervous or stressed at mediation as it is a foreign situation, the parties should take solace in knowing that no agreement can be reached at mediation that the parties do not agree to themselves.
Why Use Mediation
The first, and most obvious reason for mediation is that, with few exceptions, your family law case will be ordered to mediation before a final hearing in your case. In other cases, you may have agreed in your original case to mediate issues before returning to court for enforcement or modification. However, mediation can be utilized by parties even before a family law case is filed.
The vast majority of cases which mediate either resolve in its entirety or at least in part, thus narrowing issues for litigation and reducing expense. Mediation also represents a chance for the parties to craft their own result and to remove uncertainty from the situation. Further, in mediation solutions can be generated that are much more detailed than a court’s judgment and may include relief and scenarios that a court would not be able to entertain or enter.