Orders Of Referral To Family Mediation
Families who are involved in divorce, a paternity action, a relocation attempt, or a parenting plan modification in Florida will most likely end up receiving an Order of Referral to Family Mediation. This is a step taken by courts before a case goes to trial, in which they require the parties to at least try and reach an out-of-court agreement with the help of a mediator. If the attempt at mediation fails, then the parties will need to proceed with litigation.
Pay Attention to the Order
An order referring a family to mediation is a court order, which means that the parties must comply with its terms or risk sanctions. If you received such an order, be sure to pay attention to the details regarding the mediation program. The order could, for instance, require couples to make an appointment with a specific mediator, or could include a referral to a certain mediation program. Often, the order includes details about the mediator’s fee and how much each party will need to pay towards those fees. In advance of the first meeting, the order could require that couples exchange certain evidence, or provide a written case summary to the mediator.
Once the discovery process has been concluded, families can actually attend their first mediation session. In most cases, mediation occurs between three and six months after a case is originally filed with the court, although it could be delayed if there are issues that need to be dealt with immediately. At the first session, the parties usually discuss the issues they need to resolve, establish what marital assets and debts the couple has, and determine whether more documents need to be exchanged. Later, the parties will attend as many sessions as are required to resolve the issues at hand, which could include child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. Most couples are encouraged to hire their own attorneys to help protect their interests during this process.
Reaching a Resolution
If a couple is able to reach an agreement, then either the mediator or one of the attorneys will draft a settlement agreement. After signing it, the parties will need to submit it to a judge, who will then be tasked with determining whether the agreement is fair and if there are children involved, whether it reflects their best interests. It’s important to remember that a mediator is only there to act as a neutral third party, so they can’t force couples into an agreement. Those who are unable to resolve their issues through mediation will need to take their case to court, where a judge will be responsible for creating a settlement agreement.
Set Up an Appointment with Our Legal Team Today
If you received an order referring you to family mediation, call the dedicated Clearwater mediation lawyers at Cairns Law to learn more about the steps you’ll need to take next. You can set up a consultation by calling our office at 727-683-1472, or by completing one of our online contact forms.