What to Know about Mediation
Many couples are choosing to attend mediation rather than seek the representation of an attorney when considering a divorce. So rather than speaking to an attorney to learn about the law, they decide to attend a mediation session, without representation; in the hopes of settling their case quickly and painlessly.
In some cases this could be a good idea, since it probably would be less costly. However, as the saying goes:” penny wise and pound foolish”. You may be successful in saving costs and attorney’s fees, but you may in turn be giving up more than you should. A signed mediation settlement agreement is a binding contract between the parties. If in fact you change your mind about the distribution of property after the agreement is signed, you will generally be “stuck” with your decision. It will not be a defense that “I didn’t have an attorney”. In addition, the mediator, although usually an attorney, is not playing the role of an attorney and therefore cannot give either party legal advice. Basically you will be on your own.
I am not suggesting that mediation is always the wrong decision. In fact parties who cannot reach a settlement on their own, even when represented by attorney’s, must attend mediation prior to a final hearing being set. So mediation can be a very successful tool, provided you know the law. If you are aware of what you are either entitled to or what you must give up, then a fair and equitable settlement can be reached. If you enter mediation without any idea of how the law is structured, you run the risk of reaching an unfair agreement.
Perhaps the most important consideration is choosing the correct mediator. Mediators are trained and licensed. I find it very important when hiring a mediator, to make sure his/her personality will be favorable for my client. Each mediator has a different style in the way they approach a case.
Mediators generally charge from $150 to $250 an hour for their time. Most mediations last at least 4 to 5 hours, although some can last a full day. Anything discussed in mediation is confidential and therefore cannot be discussed after the mediation concludes. This is to promote the exchange of settlement offers without the fear that these offers will be used against you, should the mediation not be successful. A successful Mediator will settle between 80 and 90% of their mediations. Those are obviously very good odds for success.
My best advice; go to see an attorney to learn about you rights before going blindly into a mediation. Remember, the agreement you sign can change your life forever!
Our family law firm can inform you of your rights in the process of divorce and assess the best course of action to obtain a favorable settlement in Weston, Pembroke Pines and Broward County. Contact the Law Firm of Evan H. Baron today.