Florida is home to more than 8,000 mediators, and mediation has become a cornerstone in the state’s judicial system. It’s often mandated in civil and family cases before a case can go to trial, saving the parties time, money, and stress.
Cobb Cole attorneys have frequently served as mediators in cases involving business disputes, real estate matters, HOA disputes, personal injury claims, collections, contracts, insurance disputes, and family law matters.
Florida’s mediation success rate is exceptionally high, with about eight in ten cases resolved before a trial is needed. That makes mediation an invaluable process for people to settle their legal differences and avoid what is so often a drawn-out, painful situation.
When You Need a Mediator for Your Florida Legal Matter
Florida Statutes section 44.1011(2) defines mediation as a process where a neutral third person acts to facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. An informal and non-adversarial process, it aims to help disputing parties reach a voluntary, mutually agreeable agreement on their own. All decisions regarding settlement or compromise rest with the parties, but the mediator can help them identify issues, encourage collaborative problem-solving, and explore multiple settlement scenarios.
Reasons your legal matter might need a mediator include:
Much of Florida’s mediation is court-ordered based on the type of case. The most common matters ordered into mediation by the court are family law disputes and several kinds of small claims. In these matters, the judge is allowing the parties an opportunity to settle before a trial is necessary. If mediation is court-ordered and one or both parties does not appear, the court could impose sanctions, much like it does in court hearings.
The Dispute Lends Itself to Mediation
Many disputes are suitable for mediation and include:
- Contractual claims
- Personal injury and other damages claims
- Family law disputes
- Landlords and tenants
- Business disputes
- Insurance claims
Some matters are resolved in one mediation; others requiring more evidentiary documentation might take two or more efforts. The good news is that you can mediate any time and as many times as you and the other party wish.
While whether to mediate is usually not up to the parties, it’s usually a beneficial way to resolve conflicts. Plus, judges know that even if a mediation doesn’t initially result in a settlement, it can set the groundwork for a later resolution.
Business partners and family members often have difficulty resolving conflicts, whether due to a lack of negotiating skills or resistance to confrontation. Mediators are trained to handle these and other emotional or psychological barriers to settlement. They’re also skilled at creating non-threatening environments where productive steps can be discussed.
In some cases, the mediation process actually repairs or builds new working relationships.
When You Might Need to Go to Court
It’s generally agreed that mediation is an effective solution in many legal matters. However, there are times when it might not be appropriate or feasible. For instance, class actions, abuse cases, and many employment matters typically require judicial resolutions. Also, domestic violence, trauma, and other power imbalances are difficult, if not impossible, to resolve in mediation.
Sometimes, the parties are so far apart in their civil or divorce dispute that mediation is simply not an option. If one or both parties take an all-or-nothing stance or have decided they want their “day in court,” mediation will likely fail unless the party or parties can be convinced to soften their position.
At the end of the day, a successful mediation requires both parties to give a little on some issues, particularly those that aren’t their top priority.
Do You Need a Mediator for Your Florida Legal Case?
There can be times mediation isn’t helping because the parties are working with a mediator who lacks the proper skills and training to help them reach a resolution. How the mediator facilitates discussions and how considerate they are of the needs and emotions of each party often makes the difference between a successful mediation and a case that’s headed to trial.
Historically trial lawyers have been defined by their courtroom skills. Today, with the vast majority of cases settled before trial—many during mediation—trial attorneys are more often than not defined by their skill in achieving successful outcomes for their clients in the mediation room.
At Cobb Cole, we understand that one of the most challenging parts of the mediation process is getting people to accept it can be an effective way to resolve a dispute. And while there are many advantages to mediation, we also acknowledge that it has its limits. Our trained and licensed mediators will guide you through the mediation process and help you decide if a trial might ultimately be your best solution.
Whether you’re exploring mediation for a business, real estate, intellectual property, or family law matter, the attorneys at Cobb Cole provide resolution services that save our clients time, energy, and money.
Contact us today to learn more about mediation processes and how we can help bring your legal matter to a favorable conclusion.