What is mediation?
Mediation is the process where the mediator helps parties to achieve an agreement.
How does mediation work?
The parties meet with the mediator, with or without their attorneys. Usually, the parties separate into two rooms, called a "caucus", so that they can discuss the issues more comfortably. The mediator will go back and forth between rooms to communicate any offers or possibilities of agreement.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator helps the parties; communicate, problem solve, offer solutions, identify needs, make decisions, and evaluate choices. The mediator is a disinterested unbiased non-judgmental skilled person who offers the parties an opportunity to make their own agreements in a comfortable atmosphere by meaningful respectful discussions regarding the challenges the parties are facing.
Does the Mediator provide Legal Advice?
No. Even legally trained mediators, who also practice family law, cannot give legal advice. Before signing, any agreement made through mediation each party will have the opportunity to discuss their case with a lawyer privately.
The mediator does not make a decision on behalf of the parties or decide who is telling a lie or telling the truth. The mediator does not give tax advice. Mediation is not a substitute for therapy or other professional care and advice.
How long does it take?
Mediation sessions usually take two to six hours, when attorneys are present, because the attorney's and the parties usually try to wrap things up in one meeting. Sometimes mediation takes several sessions. Private mediation usually takes several sessions of approximately one to two hours.
Mediation is substantially less costly, less time consuming, and less stressful as compared to litigation. In mediation, the parties can make agreements and decisions that the Court cannot because courts are limited to the law from statutes and prior case law. In court, you are limited by the time allowed and by the decision. In mediation, you have more flexibility and time for specificity. In court, you never know what the result will be. Mediation is also helpful to see things from the other side's point of view. By seeing things from a different light, solutions may present themselves.
How Much does it cost?
The mediator charges an hourly fee. The fees vary from mediator to mediator. All time spent by the mediator is billable at the mediator's hourly rate. Mr. Sorkin charges $300 per hour. If there are special circumstances requesting a reduced rate, please call our office.
Each party usually pays one-half of the hourly fees to the mediator unless there is some other agreement or a court order. We accept cash, debit card, credit card, money order, and attorney's check for payment of fees. Payment is required in full at the conclusion of the mediation session. A fee deposit reserves the date and time scheduled for the mediation meeting.
What are the mediator's qualifications?
Mr. Sorkin was approved to mediate family law cases since 1990, even before Florida Supreme Court Certification. In 1991, the Supreme Court of Florida as a Family Mediator certified Mr. Sorkin. Mr. Sorkin is a licensed attorney in Florida since 1980. He has mediated several hundred cases. Mr. Sorkin also practices family law, in addition to doing mediation. Mr. Sorkin is a member of the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators. Mr. Sorkin is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator and qualified arbitrator.
Is it confidential?
Mediation is confidential except for a few very limited exceptions. The exceptions to confidentiality are; 1) a written signed mediation agreement, 2) the commission of a crime or fraud or a plan to commit a crime or fraud, 3) abuse or neglect (i.e. spouse abuse, elderly abuse or child abuse), and 4) public hazards. Some examples where the mediation confidentiality privilege does not apply are unreported child abuse or neglect, unreported spousal abuse, a criminal act committed during mediation, or the attempt to commit a criminal act during mediation or the threat to commit violence or a criminal act in the future.
If there is no exception, the parties and the attorney's cannot discuss what took place at mediation. If there is something, you do not want the mediator to repeat to the other side the mediator must keep it confidential. The Judge will not hear what happened at mediation. Each party has the privilege to prevent the other party or lawyer from disclosing what happened at mediation to the court, to third parties, and to refuse to disclose what happened at mediation. Florida Statutes 44.401-407, known as the Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act, provide remedies for violation of mediation confidentiality. The act provides that all mediation communications shall be confidential and a mediation participant shall not disclose a mediation communication to a person other than another mediation participant or participant's legal counsel. A violation of confidentiality may be remedied by a civil action, which may subject the violator to equitable relief and compensatory damages, as well as attorney's fees and costs.
How successful is mediation?
Mediation settles most cases out of court. For this reason, virtually every case is mediated before a judge will allow the case to go to trial. The parties do not have to settle the entire case at mediation. Some issues may be settled leaving other issues for court determination or further mediation. In some cases, no agreement is reached at mediation. This is called an "impasse". This does not mean that your case will not settle. Often times an agreement is reached after mediation. A signed mediation agreement is immediately binding on the parties.