Truly representing oneself
The legal term pro se means, “for oneself”. And if you’re considering a pro se divorce, you’re probably aware of its benefits for your specific situation. However, most pro se divorce couples believe they must visit a lawyer to file an initial court action. That’s not true in Florida, where mediation is available before anyone files a court action. The Florida Supreme Court certifies mediators to help pro se divorce couples resolve even the most difficult conflicts without ever involving a lawyer.
“Mediation is available before anyone files a court action”
Divorce is stressful and courtrooms are stressful. Why combine the two when couples can resolve the complicated, emotional issues of divorce without ever entering a courtroom? Mediation provides a less stressful, more sensible venue for negotiations. And a mediator will not only facilitate the process, but allow both parties (and their children) to move forward with their lives more easily.
The mediation process is confidential and informal. You maintain control over the process, and you – not a judge! – decide the outcome. An impartial mediator assists both parties in resolving their dispute, allowing them to reach their own agreements. Mediators present practical, creative solutions that are tailored to each couple’s specific needs.
“You – not a judge! – decide the outcome”
Mediation can resolve even the most hotly contested issues, including:
- Time sharing with children
- Child support
- Division of marital assets
Pro se mediated divorce has many advantages:
- Avoid hiring separate lawyers and paying two retainers
- Avoid depositions, interrogatories, hearings and a trial
- Control the outcome to meet your needs and those of your children
- Finish in a reasonable time frame
Choosing the right mediator
Family mediators should have an in-depth understanding of family law. One of the important services provided by a family mediator is assistance in completing the forms required by the Court. These may include a Marital Settlement Agreement, financial affidavits and the forms that relate to children. The divorce process is, after all, a legal process and familiarity with the law is essential.
The Florida Supreme Court certification process does ensure competency with legal matters, but it is also important to choose a mediator who you’re both comfortable talking to. In this regard, an experienced mediator will have worked with a wider range of personalities. Take the time to chat informally with your prospective mediator about your needs as a couple before making a final decision.
“Choose a mediator who you’re both comfortable talking to”
Non-married and same-sex couples
Non-married and same-sex couples who wish to separate face the same challenges as married couples. Their lives become intertwined both emotionally and financially. In the absence of a legal marriage contract, mediation still offers sensible, binding resolutions to financial, property, sweat equity and custody disputes.
Same-sex couples also face some unique challenges. Since common-law marriages are not available to gay and lesbian couples, it can be difficult to prove financial and emotional aspects of the relationship. There may be a formal relationship agreement, documented commitment ceremony, will or powers of attorney to consider. In all cases, a mediator can help you reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
“Same-sex couples face the same challenges as married couples”
How I can help
I have been mediating divorces since 1989. I draw on more than 20 years of experience as a lawyer representing both husbands and wives in contentious and difficult divorces. I have developed a reputation for engaging even the most reluctant divorce participants and helping them actively participate in the mediation process to achieve reasoned, enduring outcomes.
I will also help you complete the necessary forms and draft an enforceable settlement agreement that accurately reflects the terms of your settlement. Thereafter, I recommend that a lawyer review the document to provide an independent opinion. This ensures that the written agreement matches your exact understanding. That way, my clients pay only for the time it takes to work through the issues of their divorce.
For more information about me online, read about my experience and view my resume.
Or better yet, call and introduce yourself.