Family cases are most often and best resolved out of Court. In many cases, the best method for resolving the issues facing a family is through mediation. The attorneys at Brodzki Jacobs are experienced negotiators and have guided thousands of clients through the mediation process. When you have hired an attorney at Brodzki Jacobs, your family law attorney will attend mediation with you at some point in your case, unless you have selected the collaborative process, in which case you are working on settlement from the outset of the case. If your case has been filed in court and is contested, you and your lawyer will attend mediation at some point before a judge will hear your case.
Nancy K. Brodzki is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator who is frequently hired directly by couples as their selected mediator to assist them in resolving their case. Couples are strongly encouraged to seek the legal advice of outside counsel in preparation for settlement negotiations. Each party having their own adviser to help them prepare for mediation, understand their rights and obligations according to Florida law, and develop strategies for getting the best possible negotiated outcome yields the best result for both parties.
Before any mediation takes place, it is essential that both parties have completely laid all of their financial cards on the table. Full, mandatory disclosure is an essential part of any family law case, and failure to make complete disclosure is grounds to invalidate any agreement that is reached. If children are involved, the parties will need to develop a parenting plan and a time sharing schedule. An analysis will need to be made of the parties relative financial situations, and whether alimony is appropriate.
Mediation is highly effective because often times you can accept a proposal given you by a neutral third party that you would never consider if it came directly from your soon-to-be former spouse. At a mediation conference, the mediator explains the mediation process and sets out some guidelines for the conference. The mediator then outlines the issues that need to be resolved with the parties. Sometimes, an entire mediation takes place with the two parties in the room together at all times. More common, however, is separating the parties in two separate rooms, allowing the mediator to convey proposals back and forth. This separation, also known as “caucus,” allows the parties to speak candidly with the mediator without fear of how the other side will react to what they are saying. This type of “shuttle diplomacy” is highly effective. Mediation levels the playing field for spouses who would otherwise not feel that they have equal bargaining power. For many clients, this is the most desirable way of resolving their case.
Mediation can be broken up into a few sessions of 2-3 hours, or can sometimes be accomplished in one longer session. At the end of the mediation, an agreement is drafted. It can be signed at that time or after each party has had a further opportunity to consider it and perhaps have it reviewed by their attorney.
The final step in any family law matter, even if a settlement is reached out of court, is having a Final Judgment entered by the Circuit Judge. If you’re represented by an attorney, the attorney will usually handle the entry of the Final Judgment. If a couple is using the services of one of our attorney mediators, we can make arrangements to assist you in obtaining your Final Judgment.