Disputes occur in life. They happen in divorces and child custody issues, in business and contractual agreements, in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and wrongful death claims. Everyone wants what is best for them, regardless of the opposing party’s position.
Mediation offers a way for parties to resolve disputes without going to court. The process involves open communication, discussion without high emotions, and compromise on both sides. In the end, no matter the type of dispute, resolution comes down to the law and numbers. Although a rare combination, a skilled mediator will be adept at both.
At BKG Mediation, LLC, I use my experience as a Naval navigator, my academic degrees, certifications, and experience in mathematics, business, and accounting, along with my years as a family law and tax attorney to help clients navigate disputes through mediation. Certified by the Florida Supreme Court in Independency, Family, and County Mediation, I use my knowledge and experience to help parties in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and throughout the State of Florida find solutions to their disputes outside the courtroom.
Mediation is the process of resolving disputes by bringing the parties together to discuss and work through their disagreements. The process is facilitated by a neutral and impartial mediator whose role is to encourage open discussion, help keep emotions in check, and guide the parties toward an agreement.
Mediation and arbitration are both modes of alternative dispute resolution. Unlike mediation, arbitration uses arbiters who assume the role of judges. Parties agree in advance to accept the arbiter’s decision. They present their evidence and arguments to the arbiter who renders a decision binding to the parties.
Mediation, on the other hand, is a non-binding process. Neither party is required to accept a potential resolution in mediation.
Mediation typically begins with the mediator explaining the process. The parties (and their attorneys if they choose to have them present) then present the substance of their disagreement and related issues. If a party chooses to have an attorney, the attorney will often speak for the party during the process. The mediator will provide opportunities for clients to discuss issues privately with their attorneys during mediation.
Most of the time, both parties will be present with the mediator. On occasion, the mediator may “caucus” with an individual party and their attorney, but those discussions remain confidential unless the party permits the mediator to reveal them.
There are three potential outcomes of mediation:
The parties reach an agreement that is put in writing by the mediator and signed by the parties and their respective attorneys
The parties reach an impasse but agree to return the next day to continue the process
The parties are unable to reach an agreement and proceed to court to litigate the disputed matter
Mediation agreements signed by the parties are legally enforceable. By signing the agreement at the conclusion of mediation, the parties are agreeing to all terms contained therein.
There are four key benefits of mediation:
Cost — The cost of mediation is substantially lower than the cost of taking a case to trial. Although the rates of mediators will vary in most cases, mediation costs for Florida family law cases are determined based on household income.
Speed — The mediation process can take days, weeks, or just a few months, but taking a case to court can take months — or even years.
Confidentiality — With few exceptions, cases that go to court become matters of public record and public scrutiny. Discussions during mediation and the terms of any agreement reached are confidential.
Neutrality — There is no judgment in mediation because that is not the mediator’s role. Mediators must be neutral with no partiality toward either party.
Mediation allows disputing parties to make their own decisions, including whether they are willing to sign a resolution agreement. The parties control the outcome, not a judge or jury.
Mediation is the process of compromise. Neither party gets everything they want, but both can choose to agree to terms they can live with. The mediator’s role is to help them reach that agreement if possible.
At BKG Mediation, LLC, I pride myself on using my experience, knowledge, and mediation skills to help people settle disputes. I allow people in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and throughout the state of Florida to avoid the time and expense of going to court. If you want to know more about using mediation to resolve legal disputes, call my office.