Jacksonville Florida Mediation Law Firm
What is Mediation?
Mediation is less stressful, less expensive, and less time consuming way to resolve your divorce/family law case than going to Court. Mediation involves a neutral party – the Mediator – working with both you and your soon-to-be-ex (the Parties) to find the best divorce agreement which will allow you and your family to move forward.
How Does Mediation Work?
During the mediation process each Party will be with their attorney in a room separate from the other Party. This allows you to relax a bit and freely have conversations with your lawyer to discuss any offers made during Mediation. It is the Mediator who goes back and forth between both rooms, bringing the offers and offering creative solutions that would lead to an acceptable resolution. Pre-Covid days, Mediations took place in the Mediator’s office or one of the attorney’s offices. Currently all Mediation is taking place over Zoom.
Tell Me More About the Mediator
Your mediator is typically also a family law lawyer. This allows them to pull on their years of legal experience to help you in considering creative solutions to resolve your differences that work for your family, but may not be available to you later in Court.
The Mediator is a neutral party. When both sides come to mediation, the mediator is only aware of the basic facts of your case. They will not take a side. The intent is for the mediator to have the parties come to a resolution so there is no further litigation, no further attorney fees, and both parties agree to a resolution so they can move on with their lives.
Why Try Mediation?
Why? Because litigation is time consuming and stressful. Mediation is the opposite. Although most parties are stressed at mediation, it is not the level of stress that occurs when parties meet face to face in a courtroom where the parties are paying lawyers to attack one another so they have the best chance of winning. What most parties eventually realize is that when you are dealing with families, there is no winning or losing. Decisions made by a Judge who does not know your family greatly impact your daily life. Mediation enables each party to agree to s resolution that they both can live with.
Trials can drag on for several years, even in family law cases. The Judges’ dockets are full and trial time is limited. Many cases are also appealed after trial which adds more years to the litigation. Mediation resolves cases timelier and more conveniently compared to going to trial.
Tell Me More about Mediation with Mina
Mina Bustamante has been a practicing attorney since 1994 who focused her practice on family law. She is an experienced trial lawyer with hundreds of trials, and that experience is invaluable to the parties in assisting them resolve their cases in the Jacksonville Florida and surrounding areas.
As a mediator, Ms. Bustamante always maintains neutrality. Regardless of the facts, she will not encourage or dissuade one side over the other while working towards an agreement. She uses her experience to explain the realities of divorce and the realm of possibilities that the Court may impose on either or both parties.
What if the Mediation Doesn’t Work?
If your mediation is not successfully resolved, you can still go to Court, but the majority of cases do resolve during the mediation process. The best case scenario is both parties work in good faith towards an agreement, that may not be perfect to either party, but is acceptable to both and is in the best interest of the family. Worst case? You continue through the court system and whatever was discussed in mediation cannot be used against you.
Mediation is confidential. What is discussed at mediation is not permitted to be discussed after mediation concludes, including in any court hearing. Soa lawyer is not allowed to ask you why you didn’t agree to a settlement at mediation or allow the other party to testify to any offers made during mediation when you might now be asking for something different. The rule of confidentiality is to ensure that both sides can freely discuss their case in mediation without fear of retribution in Court.
Can We Go to Mediation Before We File for Divorce?
Yes. Some clients chose to mediate first before filing for divorce. Everyone has that option. However, please be aware that although Mina Bustamante is a lawyer, when she is your mediator not you or your partner’s lawyer. As a mediator, she is not permitted to give legal advice. No mediator in the state of Florida is permitted to give legal advice. If you have questions about your rights, then you need to meet with an attorney prior to mediation or hire an attorney to represent you at mediation.
For the parties that want to resolve their divorce through mediation prior to filing for divorce, both of you must be able to answer the following questions affirmatively:
- Is there a mutual agreement to divorce? If one party is pushing for a divorce, while the other party is resistant, then mediation prior to starting the divorce process is not the best solution.
- Are there any lingering feelings of wanting to revive the marriage? This can become particularly sensitive as the divorce moves forward, as one party may try to complicate the matter or delay the divorce or mediation.
- Do both parties want to remain on good terms with the other? This is especially important if there are children involved. You will be co-parenting beyond the age of eighteen as your children will always be your children.
- Is there transparency with each of your financial status? Often, one of the more complicated aspects of a divorce, and why having one’s own attorney is important, is if there is a difficulty in divulging financial records, or information regarding the other party’s assets or liabilities, and, in that case, then mediation should not be your first option.
- Has there been a commitment to honesty between the two parties? Just like with the example above, unfortunately as emotions get involved in any legal proceedings, and that’s especially true with divorce, there can be a tendency to conceal financial and property matters. Simply put, openness and honesty are what makes a mediation successful.
- Is there room for disagreement without resentfulness? In a perfect world, everyone understands the other person’s perspective, but this is not reality. There is always possible disagreement between the parties, and a mediation can only work if there is an ability to resolve those disagreements respectfully. Divorce is hard emotionally and financially. Parties should come to a mediation with an understanding that each person is trying to get the best outcome for themselves but still understand the need to lessen the emotional and financial impact by compromising.
- Is either party intimidated by the other? The very nature of relationships means that there will be different power dynamics between the two parties. If that kind of dynamic exists within a person’s marriage, then it will exist while it is ending as well, and mediation should not be your first option without assistance of an attorney.