Florida Statute § 61.183 (1) states that “In any proceeding in which the issues of parental responsibility, primary residence, access to, visitation with, or support of a child are contested, the court may refer the parties to mediation in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.” The Florida Family Rules that have been promulgated by the Supreme Court can be found in Rules 12.740 and 12.741. Rule 12.740 (b) states that “Except as provided by law and this rule, all contested family matters and issues may be referred to mediation. Every effort shall be made to expedite mediation of family issues.”
Once a Florida Family Law Judge signs an Order of Referral to Mediation, mediation becomes mandatory. Rule 12.741 (b) (2) titled Sanctions makes this evident and it states that “If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause, or knowingly and willfully violates any confidentiality provision under section 44.405, Florida Statutes, the court upon motion shall impose sanctions, including an award of mediator and attorneys’ fees and other costs, against the party.”
This mandatory rule is meant to help couples who are going through a divorce deal with the necessary processes to divide their assets and resolve child related issues without resorting to being bitter with each other.
So, what is the next step after the parties have been referred to mediation? Rule 12.741 (b) (6) (B) states that “If the parties cannot agree upon a mediator within 10 days of the order of referral, the plaintiff or petitioner shall so notify the court within 10 days of the expiration of the period to agree on a mediator, and the court shall appoint a certified mediator.”
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators regularly conduct mediations where a Florida Family Law Court has signed an Order of Referral. Once the parties choose a mediator, a Notice of Mediation Conference is filed with the Clerk of Court. This “Notice” contains the name of the mediator as well as the date, time and place for the mediation to take place.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators will meet with both parties to their Florida Dissolution of Marriage case along with their attorneys – if they are represented by legal counsel. Although it is not necessary to appear at mediation with an attorney, it is recommended because only your attorney can give you legal advice. A mediator is impartial and cannot give either party legal advice. At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators are there to assist the parties in discussing issues with each other.
In addition, the mediator in your case does not make decisions for the parties but helps guide you to come up with possible ways to resolves the issues that exist in your case. On the other hand, if you are represented by an attorney, he or she can advise you about the legal consequences of each possible decision that you can make.
If you have received an Order of Referral, please contact Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. and our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators will be more than happy to conduct your mediation.