1. Experience Matters
When choosing what mediator may fit best with the issues in your family law case, it is important to find a mediator with a proven record of success in resolving cases. Most mediators are chosen as a result of the relationship they have built with the attorneys in the community. If you have retained an attorney for your family law case, then it is likely your attorney has several mediators they have worked with in the past and would likely recommend a mediator based on their past experiences with that particular mediator. If you do not have an attorney, or your attorney is not familiar with proven mediators, then it becomes even more important to do your homework and research as much as you can about the mediators in your area who may be the right fit for your case.
2. Legal knowledge matters
It is important to know that to be a family law mediator in Florida does not require a law license. In fact, there are qualified professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, and other mental health experts, that have been certified by the Florida Supreme Court in family law mediation, just like attorneys. So depending on the issues in your case it is possible you will want to consider using someone that has a non-legal background. If financial or other legal-intensive issues are not the top priority, but rather if deciding child-related issues are of the utmost importance, then it may make sense to use a mental health professional that is sensitive to the issues involving children and co-parenting. If, however, there are complex financial or legal issues, then having a non-attorney mediator may not be your best option.
3. Demeanor matters
Having a mediator that respects the parties, their positions and the attorneys is very important to having a successful mediation. If one party feels that the mediator is not acting in a neutral way, or has the appearance that they are favoring one side over the other, then it is likely that would have a negative effect on the mediation and it would be unlikely that the case would resolve by way of mediation with that particular mediator. It is of vital importance to have a mediator that you feel comfortable with, is open to hearing both sides and does not choose sides during a mediation.
4. Location matters
Believe it or not, sometimes the location of the mediation itself can determine whether or not a mediation will be successful. Mediations can occur just about anywhere, including an attorney’s office or a more neutral location, such as the mediator’s office. In some cases, parties may not be comfortable going to mediation at the opposing attorney’s office, so it is important to consider these issues when scheduling your mediation.
5. Costs Matter
One of the first questions I usually get from my clients is, “How much is mediation going to cost?” In order to gauge the costs, it is important to understand that there are two types of mediations, a courthouse mediation and a private mediation. Usually, the difference between the two comes down to how much money the parties make. If the parties make less than $100,000 in combined gross income, then they would qualify to have a reduced cost mediation offered through the courthouse and would pay a total of $60 to $120 for a three-hour mediation. If the parties’ combined gross income is greater than $100,00, then they would need to find a private mediator to mediate their case, and those costs will generally run anywhere from $100 to $350 per hour, with usually a two or three-hour minimum. When it comes to mediation and private mediation, in particular, it is important to remember that if you do resolve your case through mediation, then the costs you spend for that mediation would be a drop in the bucket compared to what you might spend for a full-blown trial to litigate all of the issues in your family law case.
Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A., and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediation who focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at email@example.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.