Mediation versus Arbitration
Arbitration differs from mediation for an arbitrator will impose a resolution upon the parties much like a judge. Mediation however, is aimed at guiding parties to a resolution. A proper mediator will never impose a resolution upon the parties although a mediated agreement that the parties have agreed to is binding.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a consensual and informal conversation aimed to allow parties a chance to resolve their dispute. Mediation is not a formal legal proceeding thus both parties retain the right to end the mediation at any point and pursue their issues within the court of law. During family mediation any issues brought about by either party may be discussed. Generally, division of any and all assets, parenting plans, alimony, and wide variety of other necessary concerns are addressed. During a mediation each party will be given the opportunity to describe their issues. We will then engage in an open discussion concentrating on solutions to each issue.
Quick Results: Mediation is intended for rapid dispute settlements whereas a formal litigation hearing date could be set months into the future. Mediation allows families to begin a new chapter of their lives quickly and efficiently with a comprehensive mediated agreement. A proper mediated agreement will not only cover immediate issues but will look into the future and anticipate certain affairs to ensure the agreement will not be rendered ineffective shortly after its conception. This ensures the parties will not have to continuously revisit the court to revise an agreement in light of foreseeable issues that the parties are unable to agree on.
Cost Effective: Formal litigation often lives up to the typical stereotype, expensive. Mediation often reduces the need for formal litigation thus decreasing the overall expenses both parties face. Divorce is difficult and often the financial burden is overwhelming. Most, if not all, issues both parties face are addressed and resolved within one 2.5 hour session, ultimately decreasing attorney's fees, litigation fees, time taken from work, and the worry of anticipated litigation.
Voluntary: Mediation is a consensual process where the parties voluntarily agree to the terms of their agreement. In the event the Judge has ordered the parties to mediate their disputes, the parties are still at liberty to agree to any terms and will not be forcibly entered into a settlement agreement.
More control: The goal here is mutually agreeable terms for both parties. In formal litigation the Judge renders a settlement to where the parties have no say in the final result. Often, parties leave a settlement hearing unfulfilled however, in a mediation the parties perpetuate their own terms allowing for a more gratifying result.
Informal Process: Mediation is not a formal legal proceeding, which to many, allows for a more open and honest conversation. Litigation can often be intimidating leaving parties uncomfortable. I, as a mediator, strive to ensure both parties feel heard and the issues they bring independently are handled delicately.
What is the Mediator's role?
Although I am a licensed attorney that is not my role during a mediation. I am solely an impartial 3rd party facilitator to assist the parties in identifying different issues and explore alternative solutions. Essentially I do not have the authority to impose a resolution. The party's role is to propose a settlement that directly addresses both their needs and best interests with exclusive authority to settle.
What if there is no agreement?
If an agreement is not reached, there is no penalty the issue will then go before the Judge who will render a decision. If an agreement is foreseeable, additional time may be set aside to reach a final result.
What is a Caucus?
At some point I will most likely pull each party aside in a "caucus". This private meeting allows for me to ask questions to each party separately without the fear one is limiting their concerns in the presence of the opposing party. This process is completely normal to any mediation and may happen multiple times throughout this experience.
If at any time either party discloses information, that information is confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law. Such instances where disclosure is required include child abuse, elder abuse, fraud ect. Keep in mind however, adverse facts that were discoverable prior to this mediation are not automatically confidential because they were presented during the mediation. If either party does choose to continue with formal litigation, a mediator will not willingly testify information regarding the mediation for or against any party.
When an agreement has been reached, the terms will be written and each party will be asked to sign the document. I will sign as a witness to these terms. Each party will be given a hard copy of the agreement to take with them.
Each session is $410.00 and allotted 2.5 hours which covers the majority of all client's needs. If additional time is necessary, each additional session will be 1 hour at $125.00 per addition. Most parties divide the cost of mediation equally unless one party has offered to cover the cost entirely.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is the settlement of a dispute of law, fact, or procedure by way of a neutral arbitrator contracted for by the parties. Arbitration involves a single impartial third party or a panel of three to render a decision of an issue based on the merits of the case. Parties may agree to either one arbitrator or a panel of three in order to save time and expenses. The most important factor in a successful arbitration is the choice of arbitrator. Above all else an arbitrator must be someone who is fair minded and impartial. As a Supreme Court Trained Arbitrator I strive for impartiality and an efficient process for my clients.
The Benefits of Arbitration
Arbitration is typically far less expensive than a legal proceeding. Florida statute governs arbitration, regulating the daily fee an arbitrator may charge. In a recent trend, many trial attorneys are requesting the court to order non-binding arbitration when it is believed the costs of litigation will be unduly burdensome to their client or the costs will outweigh the award itself.
Many do not have the resources to allow their dispute to drag on for months typical in a court resolution setting. Arbitration is an informal process thus arbitration is much faster than arguing a claim in the court of law. There is no overfilled docket, motions to file, nor court calendars to adhere to, rather a simple appointment is all that is necessary in order to begin the process. Many disputes will be resolved in a single day.
Arbitration versus Legal Proceeding
Unlike a legal proceeding, parties agree or contract to participate in arbitration to avoid legal fees and court costs. An arbitrator may act as a judge in the particular dispute however is not an actual judge of the court. If one decides to dishonor the verdict of an arbitration, the matter can then be disputed in the court of law as a breach of contract matter. Typical rules of evidence or discovery do not apply to arbitration as they do in trial. During arbitration, facts are regularly presented through documents and counsel arguments limiting the need for live witness testimony.
Parties may contract to handle any disputes through arbitration rather than a formal legal proceeding. For example, many apartment lease agreements or storage unit contracts carry an arbitration clause stating any dispute involving the premises, lease, or issues of payment be evaluated through arbitration. Even if parties have not contracted to resolve a dispute through arbitration, once a dispute arises, parties may choose arbitration rather than a formal legal proceeding.
Non-binding arbitration is utilized more and more as court dockets rapidly fill. Many court appointed non-binding arbitrations stem from a failure to mediate a claim and the court intends to show one or both litigants a remedy is still available. The court may not order litigants into binding arbitration for doing so would violate the party's constitutional right of access to the formal court system. Here, if the either party disagrees with the arbitration process or even the result, the litigants retain the right to have the matter brought before the Court. Rejection of the arbitration process will typically be more costly. In the event of rejection, both parties are obligated to the arbitration and now litigation costs. One point to also keep in mind, if the award granted by the court is less than the award granted through arbitration, the objecting party must then pay the opposing party's litigation and attorneys fees.
Session and Pricing:
Each arbitration session is allotted the whole day, from 9:30 am to 5 pm with an hour break for lunch. Each session will be $1,300.00. If a session is needed within one week, an expedited process is available for $1,500.00.