Professional Mediation Services

Family cases are most often resolved in mediation or settlement negotiations. The lawyers at Brodzki Jacobs & Associates, PL are experienced negotiators in family cases, and Ms. Brodzki is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. Mediation is an opportunity for couples to resolve their divorce or other family law issues without litigation, and is far less costly. With the help of a skilled mediator, you can resolve your case in a matter of weeks. Call today for a consultation!

How does mediation work?

Mediation is a process of negotiation to settle the terms of your divorce or other family law matter. All family law cases must be mediated before they can go to Court for a final hearing in front of the Judge. Florida Courts recognized the value of settlement and discovered that mediation is so effective at resolving cases without the need for a trial that mediation became mandatory in all cases.

Mediation can take several forms. In most cases, your matter has already been filed with the Court. The two sides have exchanged all the family’s financial documents and information, and so both parties’ lawyers have a complete picture of the family’s finances. All marital assets and liabilities have been identified. You have consulted with your attorney and you have outlined what kind of parenting arrangement you would like if there are children involved. It is time to sit down and hammer out the settlement.

Formal Mediation involves using a neutral mediator, usually an experienced family law attorney who has undergone special training to become a certified family mediator, to facilitate the settlement negotiations. This method is highly effective, because often times you can accept a proposal given you by a neutral third party that you would never consider if it came directly from your soon-to-be former spouse. At a mediation conference, the mediator first begins with both parties and their lawyers in a conference room. The mediator explains the mediation process and sets out some guidelines for the conference. Then the mediator asks one of the attorneys, often the attorney representing the party who filed for divorce, to outline the issues that need to be resolved. Afterward, the mediator will ask the second attorney if there is anything that he or she would like to add as an issue or if there is anything that the first attorney said that needs clarification. Once all the issues have been outlined, the mediator usually separates the parties into two separate rooms, called a caucus. In caucus the parties and their lawyers can state their positions and discuss the details of the case fully, knowing that the other side isn’t listening. There may be things that you want to say, but know that if you say them in front of your spouse, they are going to become upset, and it may prevent a settlement from ever being reached. The mediator engages in what is commonly referred to as “shuttle diplomacy”, going back and forth between the two sides until a full settlement is reached.

At the end of the mediation, an agreement is typed up and signed, usually that same day. This type of mediation has enormous advantages for both parties. Each spouse has the opportunity to consider the proposals of the other side. Each spouse has the benefit of hearing not only their own attorney’s advice regarding a proposal, but also the opinion of the mediator, who often can give additional perspective. It is often that unbiased, objective opinion that makes the difference.

At the same time, each spouse has the reassurance that they are getting the advice of their attorney to guide them in making these decisions. Mediation levels the playing field for spouses who would not otherwise have equal bargaining power. For most clients, this is the most desirable way of settling a case.

Another type of mediation is Direct Mediation. Ms. Brodzki has acted in this capacity on many occasions, assisting parties in directly negotiating the terms of their divorce or other family law matter. Direct Mediation is a viable option where the two parties get along reasonably well, and there are no concerns about both parties being completely forthcoming and truthful about all of the income, assets and liabilities, and where the parties enjoy relatively equal bargaining power. Direct Mediation is often accomplished in multiple sessions. At the first session, the spouses or parties meet with Ms. Brodzki to map out what is going to be required to prepare for the mediation. A list of required documents and information is given to the parties, and the parties leave that first conference with a sense of what each of them needs to do to prepare for the actual mediation session. When the parties have gathered all of the needed financial and other information, the second conference is scheduled. The mediation conference progresses much like it does in Formal Mediation, with Ms. Brodzki meeting with the two persons both together, and separately in caucus when necessary, to help the parties reach an agreement on all the issues. At the end of the mediation, Ms. Brodzki types up the Agreement, and asks both parties to have the Agreement reviewed by outside attorneys of the parties’ own choosing. This ensures that both parties have been fully and independently advised of all their legal rights, and gives both parties reassurance that the Agreement that they have reached is fair to them under the circumstances. The parties are then given instructions on how to proceed to finalize their divorce or other family law matter with the Court. All Agreements must be ratified by a Circuit Court Judge in the Family Division in order to be enforceable.

Whichever method you end up using, or whether you end up resolving your case through the Collaborative Process which also involves a type of structured mediation, mediation is the best way to resolve the issues of your family law case. Litigation in Court is extremely costly. It is also very uncertain. Trial is a gamble. Even the strongest cases don’t always turn out the way you expect in Court. Judges will be the first to tell you that they make mistakes. They get a very limited amount of time to analyze a great deal of information. They don’t always get to hear everything, and you don’t really get to tell your story in the way you would like. It is often said that the worst settlement is still better than your best day in Court. But it is certainly true that people are more likely to live up to the Agreements that they willingly sign than a Court Order that is imposed upon them. Mediation is your chance to create the kind of settlement that you and your family can live with and live up to.

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