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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey D. Harper, MBA, Esq.

Mediation in Florida: What You Need to Know

If you are involved in a civil lawsuit in Florida, you may be required to mediate before you can go to trial. Mediation is a way for people who are having a dispute to talk about their issues and concerns and to make decisions about the dispute with the help of a third party neutral person, called a mediator. A mediator is not allowed to decide who is right or wrong or to tell you how to resolve your dispute. Rather, the mediator's role is to help the parties discuss the issues and come up with creative solution to revolve the dispute. In mediation, you can try to find solutions that make sense to you and the other person in the dispute to resolve some or all of your concerns.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation has many advantages over going to court, such as:

  • Mediation provides an opportunity to talk with someone who is impartial. The mediator is there as a neutral person to help you focus on solving your dispute; however, the mediator is prohibited from providing therapy, counseling or legal advice.

  • Mediation allows YOU to be the decision maker. You know what you have agreed to in mediation instead of gambling with what the judge or jury may decide if you go to court.

  • Mediation is confidential. What you say in mediation cannot be used against you in court or elsewhere.

  • Mediation can help you overcome obstacles to communication with the other person or party in your dispute. The mediator can assist you in easing the way for communication and understanding.

  • Mediation agreements are enforceable. A mediated agreement can be turned into a court order or a contract that can be enforced by law.

  • Mediation allows you to reach flexible solutions to your dispute. You can explore options that may not be available in court, such as apologies, acknowledgments, future cooperation, etc.

  • Mediation can save time and costs. Mediation can be faster and cheaper than going through a lengthy and expensive trial.

How Mediation Works

Mediation can be used by the courts, state and local agencies, individuals and corporations. When it is used by the court, it is called a “court-ordered mediation.” If you are court ordered to mediation, you will receive a notice from the court telling you when and where to attend the mediation session. You may also choose to mediate voluntarily before or after filing a lawsuit.

The mediation process typically involves the following steps:

  • The mediator will explain the rules and procedures of mediation and answer any questions you may have.

  • The mediator will ask each party to briefly state their view of the dispute and what they hope to achieve in mediation.

  • The mediator will facilitate a discussion between the parties, helping them identify their interests, needs and concerns, and explore possible solutions.

  • The mediator may meet with each party separately (called a caucus) to clarify issues, test options, or address emotions.

  • If the parties reach an agreement on some or all of the issues, the mediator will help them write down the terms of the agreement and sign it.

  • If the parties do not reach an agreement, the mediator will declare an impasse and end the mediation session. The parties will then go back to court and proceed with their case.

Tips for Successful Mediation

To make the most out of your mediation experience, here are some tips:

  • Prepare for mediation. Gather any relevant documents, evidence, or information that may support your position or help you understand the other party's perspective. Think about what your goals are and what you are willing to compromise on.

  • Be respectful and cooperative. Treat the mediator and the other party with courtesy and respect. Listen actively and try to understand their point of view. Avoid personal attacks, insults, or accusations. Be willing to work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.

  • Be creative and flexible. Don't limit yourself to rigid positions or demands. Consider different options and alternatives that may satisfy both parties' interests. Be open to suggestions from the mediator or the other party.

  • Seek legal advice if needed. Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice. You have the right to consult with an attorney before, during, or after mediation. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, review any agreement before you sign it, or represent you in court if mediation fails.

If you have any question or need assistance with a mediation, please contact our office!



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