At the Law Office of Philip J. Schipani in Florida, we know that going through a divorce is one of the most stressful and emotionally draining periods of your life. We also know that more and more couples, regardless of their differences, wish there were a better way to obtain a divorce than the traditional litigation process that often becomes a courtroom battle between opposing lawyers on behalf of their intransigent clients. There is a better way. It is called mediation.
Not only is mediation less stressful, less time-consuming and more cooperative, the American Bar Association reports that it also typically costs 40-60 percent less than a traditional litigated divorce. Perhaps the greatest value of mediation, however, is that it allows you and your spouse to retain control of your lives. You are the decision-makers, not a judge. Actually, Florida requires mediation in all family law matters prior to litigation.
The mediation process
The first thing you and your spouse must do is hire a neutral mediator. This is a highly trained “referee” who represents neither of you, but rather acts as the facilitator while you and your spouse iron out your own differences in a respectful, cooperative and nonthreatening environment. Each of you first has the opportunity to meet with the mediator privately to express your issues, concerns and goals.
After these initial meetings, your mediator provides a neutral place, such as his or her conference room, where you and your spouse meet with each other to discuss, compromise and resolve your differences in the following areas:
- Child custody, visitation and support
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Educational expenses if one or both of you is in the process of completing a college or post-graduate degree
- Post-divorce living arrangements, such as which of you, if either, will remain in the family home
If you wish, you can hire your own attorney and have him or her attend the mediation sessions with you. Your spouse has the same privilege. You and your spouse may wish to jointly hire other neutral advisors as well, such as a financial advisor, a business or other asset evaluator, a child psychologist, etc. on an as-needed basis.
The goal of mediation is to help you and your spouse resolve all your differences out of court. It requires a good-faith effort on the part of both of you. For more information on this subject, please visit this page of our website.