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How does mediation work in a Florida divorce with children?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2020 | Divorce

When you and your spouse share children, that additional connection makes divorce more complicated. The well-being of your children can also be a very valid reason for wanting to avoid the stress and conflict so common in contentious divorce litigated in the Florida family courts.

If you and your ex don’t agree on how to handle all the issues in your divorce but you do agree that you want to keep things as calm as possible for your children, divorce mediation can be a viable solution for resolving outstanding issues and setting terms that work well for everyone in your family.

Once you are familiar with the way mediation works, you can make a more informed decision about whether it would be a good solution for your family.

Mediation typically occurs before you file for divorce

Mediation, when ideally managed, allows couples to set their own terms for their pending divorce and file uncontested proceedings with the Florida family courts. Uncontested divorce proceedings typically involve the spouses presenting the courts with an agreement related to the various issues from their marriage, including the division of custody and how they intend to split up their assets.

The courts simply review these documents for legality and appropriateness before allowing the family to dissolve the marriage and officializing the terms in their mediation agreement. By addressing issues before you get to court, you minimize the amount of court time and therefore the total expenses involved in your divorce.

Both you and your ex have someone looking out for you

Mediation sessions for divorce involve both spouses, their individual attorneys and a third-party mediator who serves as a neutral facilitator for negotiations. The mediator can help you find workable compromises, while your individual attorneys will make sure neither of you makes decisions that will negatively impact you in the future.

Once you set terms that both parties and their attorneys agree are reasonable, your lawyers can help you codify those terms in a written agreement that you can later present to the courts.

Mediation gives you more control over the outcome of a divorce

When you ask the courts to make determinations on issues such as asset division and child custody, the judge hearing your case is the one with the final say and authority. In mediation, you and your spouse retain that decision-making power and have the ability to set your own terms.

It is important to realize, however, that the courts can and sometimes do discard mediation agreements if the contract you create includes unenforceable or illegal terms. An example would be one spouse waiving the obligation of child support payments. Those support payments are a right of the children of the marriage, not either parent.

On the other hand, mediation can give you an opportunity to create terms that the courts would not bother with, such as shared custody of a family pet, which the courts would treat as an asset and simply allocate to one spouse or the other. Mediation is a great solution for many families with children because it reduces the stress involved in the divorce and the contentiousness between parents, leading to a healthier and more positive co-parenting relationship in the future.