Family law mediation is a process that allows parties that are in dispute to discuss issues and concerns and to make decisions about their dispute with the help of a mediator. Emotions can often run high during the stressful process of family law matters making it difficult for the parties to resolve issues and concerns equitably. Communications during the mediation process are confidential and private. The mediator is a specially trained, neutral intermediary that assists in the communication process between the parties helping each party focus on finding balanced solutions to their differences. The mediator is not allowed to decide who is right or wrong or to tell the parties how to resolve their dispute, and is prohibited from providing therapy, counseling or legal advice. The mediator does, however, use their special training and skills to be creative with their approaches and techniques to hopefully negotiate a settlement of most if not all of the disputants' issues. Mediation allows the parties to be in control of the resolution of their disputes rather than leaving the outcome of their issues in the hands of a judge. Additionally, mediation is a significant savings both monetarily and emotionally over lengthy litigation and the cost of a trial.
Florida law requires the parties of a contested divorce to attend court-ordered mediation. Judges also have the authority to order all contested family matters and issues to mediation. Mediation is an important step in these contested processes especially when there are children involved as hopefully the parties will be able to find solutions that make sense for each party and help to resolve some or all of each parties' disagreements and concerns. Mediators are usually privately hired, and parties can be represented by an attorney during the process or can be self-represented if they so choose. When disputants are court ordered to mediation it is with the hope that they are able to settle all of their differences. If not, the case will go to trial and the judge will then make the decisions for the parties of all unresolved issues.