Mediation is often a better choice for families than litigation for many reasons. First and foremost, mediation works. Research shows that couples who mediate an agreement are more satisfied with the agreement and more likely to comply with the agreement than those who take their chances in court. I refer to some of the additional benefits of mediation as the Seven Cs:
In mediation, the parties decide the outcome as opposed to a judge. The mediator assists with the identification of issues and solutions, but the parties, themselves, are the ultimate decision makers. Mediation is a voluntary process and nonbinding if an agreement is not reached.
The process and results of mediation are private and confidential. Under Florida law, with a few exceptions for information required by law to be disclosed, nobody can disclose what is said at mediation or use what is said at mediation as evidence in court without the consent of both parties.
The legal fees in divorce litigation can be substantial. In 2020, the average cost for a contested divorce was more than $15,000 (per litigant). As a result, both parties and their children often suffer a reduced standard of living after divorce. Mediation is more cost-effective and time-efficient than litigation.
Despite a couple’s best intentions to remain amicable, a contested divorce often becomes adversarial. Through mediation, conflict is reduced and disagreements are resolved in a manner that is both civilized and mutually beneficial to both parties.
In mediation, parties are able to discuss personal as well as legal issues. This ability to voice negative emotions and be heard often promotes better psychosocial outcomes than adversarial processes. Mediation often results in more than just settlement it brings healing.
The mediation environment is professional, but informal as compared to a courtroom. In mediation, parties may meet with the mediator jointly or separately, and may discuss issues that may not be applicable at trial. Additionally, a wider range of solutions can be considered parties can be flexible and creative.
Research shows many benefits of mediation for divorces involving children. Mediation is less stressful than litigation and encourages parental cooperation. Children benefit from a civil and cooperative co-parenting relationship.
Written by Jennie Lascelle Attorney, committed to helping clients navigate periods of family conflict and marital transition through her practice in the areas of family law, family mediation, and estate planning.