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Florida Divorce Mediation, Counseling and Parenting Classes
Florida Divorce Mediation:
When there are minor children, or when one of the spouses denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may delay the action for up to three months. The court may order the spouses to seek counseling, or attempt reconciliation, or attend mediation sessions. [Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapters 61.052 and 61.183].
During mediation, a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator conducts the mediation according to rules and statutes requiring mediators to remain neutral and unbiased. Mediators do not force an agreement; they work for the mutual good of the parties. Mediation opens lines of communication and allows parties to explore all settlement options. Everything in the mediation is confidential and (except as provided by law) may not be repeated to anyone other than the other spouse and/or the party’s attorney. This gives parties more control over the outcome of their case, normally allows the case to be resolved sooner, and can save on the overall expense involved in the case.
The cost of mediation is set by Florida Statutes, which provides a reduced rate for parties with a combined annual income under $100,000. The current rate is $120.00 per party, per session for parties whose combined income ranges between $50,000 and $100,000 and $60.00 per party, per session for parties whose combined income is less than $50,000. The parties file a financial affidavit with the clerk of the court so that the fees can be established. All fees must be paid to the Clerk of Court in the county of filing, prior to the mediation. If the combined income of the parties is $100,000 or more, the parties select a private mediator and pay an agreed upon fee directly to the mediator.
During mediation parties work toward agreement of issues including the division of assets and liabilities, alimony, pensions, and a parenting plan. If the parties reach agreement on all issues and file a marital settlement agreement prior to attending mediation, they may request a waiver of mediation and refund of fees through the clerk of court. If the court orders a party to attend mediation, he or she receives an Order of Referral to Family Court Mediation in the mail. The court order lists family mediators under court contract who are trained in family mediation and certified by the Florida Supreme Court. The parties select a mediator from that list, and they contact him or her to schedule mediation.
Florida Marriage Counseling:
During a three-month court ordered delay, when ordered by the court, the parties must seek counseling.
Florida Parenting Class:
All the parties in dissolution of marriage involving minor children or a paternity action allocating parental responsibilities must complete the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Class before the court enters a decree.
The course, which is offered in-person at locations around the state and on-line, is a minimum of four hours and is designed to educate, train, and assist divorcing parents about the impact of divorce on parents and children, as described in Florida Statues, 61.21.
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