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Mediation Frequently Asked Questions

Overview
What is mediation?
What are the benefits of mediation?
Who may serve as a mediator?
How to schedule a mediation through the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit?
Do I have to attend mediation?
Who else can attend mediation?
How long does mediation take?
How much do I pay for family mediation?
How much do I pay for dependency mediation?
How much do I pay for civil mediation?
How much do I pay for small claims mediation?
When must the fees be paid?
How do I take advantage of the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit?
What is arbitration?
What is a parent coordinator?
What if I have a question not covered by this discussion?

Overview

     Under the provisions of Administrative Order 2006-05, an Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit (ADR Unit) was created for the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a general term that describes multiple methods a court can use to resolve a case before resorting to a trial. Mediation is one method of ADR and has been the chosen method used by the Second Judicial Circuit. The Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit provides mediation for many cases filed in county civil court and family court, including dependency and unified family court. Currently, the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit provides only mediation services. However, we do maintain a list of qualified arbitrators and parent coordinators for the Chief Judge.

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What is mediation?

     Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal, non-adversarial, confidential process that gives decision making authority to the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties with identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, giving information and suggestions, and exploring settlement alternatives. The objective of mediation is to help disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement.

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What are the benefits of mediation?

There are many benefits of mediation.

  • Mediation is a confidential process; therefore, nothing said from the time the order of referral is signed until the mediation ends may be disclosed, except where disclosure is required or permitted by law.
  • Mediation empowers the parties. It is a process that encourages and facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties and gives decision making authority to the parties.
  • Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial process.
  • Mediation may resolve all of the issues in your case and can be more efficient and economical.

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Who may serve as a mediator?

     For general information about the qualifications for a mediator in Florida please go to http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/alternative-dispute-resolution/. All mediators provided by the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit are certified as family, dependency or county civil mediators.

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How to schedule a mediation through the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit?

     Mediations ordered in all six counties of the Second Judicial Circuit (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla) are scheduled by emailing us at Mediations@leoncountyfl.gov. Please complete and attach one of the following forms to your email request. Mediation Forms

     For all cases service of process and a response from the other party must already be filed with the clerk of court before a mediation will be scheduled. Additionally, in family law cases both parties must have financial affidavits filed with the clerk of court before a mediation will be scheduled.

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Do I have to attend mediation?

     For county civil, ($5,000-$15,000 in dispute), family and dependency cases, you must be physically present for all mediations unless you have obtained the written consent of the other party, or a court order allowing you to appear by telephone. You will be responsible for obtaining the court order if the other party objects to your attendance by telephone.

     In small claims cases, you must be physically present unless you are represented by an attorney or have given a signed letter of authority to a non-lawyer representative. In both cases the lawyer or non-lawyer must have full authority to settle the case on behalf of the party they are representing.

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Who else can attend mediation?

     If you have hired an attorney, the attorney may attend, but is not required to do so. However, attorneys can be beneficial to the mediation process. Mediators are not allowed to give legal advice; therefore, the parties may wish to have an attorney present for that purpose.

     Only in small claims cases can an attorney or a non-attorney representative with your written consent appear on your behalf.

     Other interested parties (e.g., family members, business partners, or friends) may attend the mediation only if consent is given by the other party.

     CHILDREN MAY NOT ATTEND MEDIATION, unless they are specified in the order of referral to mediation. The Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit does not have child care facilities.

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How long does mediation take?

     One session of mediation is scheduled to last three hours. Parties attending mediation must be prepared to spend the full three hours at the session, but often the session does not last for three hours. Normally, the mediation takes between two and three hours to complete. If the mediation is not completed within that timeframe, you must pay an additional fee for another session.

     If the parties reach a settlement, the mediator will prepare the agreement. This will take additional time. All parties must remain throughout the entire session, including the preparation and execution of the agreement.

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How much do I pay for family mediation?

     The cost depends on the combined gross incomes of both parties in a family case. If you are declared indigent by the Clerk of Court in the county where the case is pending, there will be no fee.

     If the combined gross income (before taxes) is less than $50,000, the fee is $60 per party, per 3-hour session.

     If the combined gross income is greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000 the fee is $120 per party, per 3-hour session.

     If the combined gross income exceeds $100,000 then your case does not qualify for the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit. You must select a private mediator. For a list of private mediators go to http://199.242.69.70/pls/drc/drc_main_screen Instructions will be sent to you in your notice package for mediation about how and when to pay these fees. In all cases mediation fees must be paid before the mediation begins.

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How much do I pay for dependency mediation?

     For dependency mediation there is no fee.

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How much do I pay for county civil mediation?

     For county civil cases, the fee is $60 per party, per 2-hour session. Instructions will be sent to you in your notice package for mediation about how and when to pay these fees.

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How much do I pay for small claims mediation?

     For small claims mediation there is no fee.

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When must the fees be paid?

     All mediation fees must be paid prior to the mediation session beginning. You must obtain an invoice from the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit or the Mediator prior to paying the fee with the Clerk of Court. All fees are paid to the Clerk of the Court in the county in which the case is pending.

     If the court has approved your motion to appear by phone or you have received consent from the other party to appear by phone you must contact the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit immediately to receive instructions on how to pay your mediation fee.

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How do I take advantage of the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit?

     In small claims cases mediation may be ordered by the judge. Certified volunteer mediators are available in those counties where the judge orders mediation.

     In county civil, family, and dependency mediations the judge or magistrate may refer a case to mediation. All referrals are directed to the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit.

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What is arbitration?

     Arbitration is a process where a neutral third party or panel considers the facts and arguments presented by the parties and renders a decision which may be binding or nonbinding on the parties

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What is a parent coordinator?

     A parenting coordinator is an impartial third person whose role is to assist the parents in successfully creating or implementing a parenting plan.

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What if I have a question not covered by this discussion?

     If you have any unanswered questions we welcome you to contact our office at (850) 606-4433.

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