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Mediation, the Process, and What to Expect

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need." - Mick Jagger

"What is mediation?" Despite being a vital process of resolving legal disputes and conflicts, many people are uncertain about what the mediation process actually entails. For starters, mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third-party (the mediator) attempts to create a civil discourse between parties in disputes in an effort to reach a resolution, or at the very least, to air the grievances of either party to help both better understand the position of the other. In Florida family law cases, mediation is typically mandatory before a case will be heard by a Judge, and is usually ordered by the Court to be completed soon after the case has been filed and disclosures have been exchanged.


In the most basic sense, mediation is a time for the parties in dispute to present their versions of the facts, arguments, and evidence to a neutral party who then takes that information and uses it to come up with creative solutions or proposed ways to resolve the conflict. Reaching a resolution, however, is not required and is not something that can be forced or influenced by the mediator. In fact, prior to mediation, the mediator is kept in the dark from the details of the case and largely learns everything about the parties, the dispute, and the issues of the case firsthand from what they are able to gather at mediation. This makes sure that there is no undue influence from the mediator prior to or during the mediation.


So in practice, what does this all look like? At the start of mediation the parties are typically brought into the same room, or in the same Zoom room if the mediation is conducted remotely. The party that brought the case will provide an opening statement of between 5-10 minutes that details the dispute, the issues, the status of the case, and their perceived resolution to it. The other party will then get their chance to provide the same from their point of view. All parties are allowed to have their attorneys present and oftentimes it is the attorneys who will provide these opening statements. From here, the mediator will typically break the parties off into separate rooms where they typically will remain for the rest of the mediation. The mediator will then go between the rooms to speak privately with these parties in what is known as a "caucus."


While in caucus the mediator will direct questions at the party and/or attorney to clarify or garner a better perception of what exactly the issues are, or more importantly, what is causing them. This process can be a matter of minutes if one party decides to leave, or a matter of hours or even days if it seems progress is being made. If an agreement is struck, the attorneys (or mediator if the parties are unrepresented) will draft the agreement, the parties will sign, and it will be filed. If an agreement is not reached, then all communications that occurred at mediation will be excluded from later testimony and evidence when the case goes before the Court.


Overall, if that doesn't sound too bad it is because it isn't. Mediation is a fantastic tool to resolve disputes and should be taken seriously by the parties involved. It is usually your one chance to hash out the issues without court or attorney intervention and truly allows a discourse to occur. If you or someone you know needs assistance as a party to mediation please do not hesitate to contact The Hosner Law Group, and if you are in need of a mediator for your case, Attorney Addison J. Hosner, Esq., has experience conducting mediations and can be contacted as well.



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