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Winter Park Divorce Mediation Information

In Winter Park, divorce mediation is mandatory in all contested divorces as a way to avoid the emotional roller coaster ride of a bitter courtroom battle.

Divorce mediation is the legal term that refers to a process where divorcing couples meet with a neutral third party to work out their disagreements in a less stressful environment than the courtroom.

"The best way to conclude your case is to settle it," according to a pamphlet from the 9th Judicial Circuit. "Through compromise and cooperation, a settlement can lead to greater mutual satisfaction and lessened animosity between you and your spouse. In most cases, negotiations toward settlement can be more productive and far less expensive than a trial."

Who Uses Divorce Mediation in Winter Park?

Winter Park is part of the 9th Judicial Circuit, which serves two counties, including Orange County. A branch of the Orange County courthouse is in Winter Park. A judge there will send you to mediation if you and your divorcing spouse have a contested divorce. A divorce is considered contested if:

  • You and your spouse have at least one child under 18
  • You and your spouse don't completely agree with the terms sought by the spouse who filed for divorce
  • You or your spouse believes the marriage is not irretrievably broken and can be fixed

Topics for Negotiation

Topics to discuss during a Winter Park divorce mediation may include:

  • Division of property and debts
  • Whether one spouse will receive alimony
  • Custody of the children and visitation
  • Child support

Whether from Hannibal Square or College Quarter or any point in between, Winter Park couples should use attorneys during divorce mediation negotiations. Many mediators are reluctant to proceed without the spouses' attorneys present.

It is important to note that it is the couples who ultimately decide their own fate during mediation. The attorneys, judge, and mediator do not make decisions or rulings.

Winter Park Divorce Mediation Process

From the point judge orders an Orange County couple into divorce mediation, the couple has 10 days to find a mediator. If they do not find one, the court will select one for them. The Supreme Court of Florida must certify all mediators. Lists of certified mediators are available through the 9th Circuit Court, the court administrator or court clerk in Winter Park.

Circuit Judge Emily A. Peacock of the 13th Judicial Circuit suggests couples consider collaborative mediation. In a collaborative mediation, both sides hire attorneys just for the mediation. Should the couple not come to an agreement on the contested issues, they would then hire new attorneys to proceed through the courts.

"This allows the negotiation process to have a truly free flow of information without the posturing or withholding of information that is common in mediation, arbitration or court settings," Peacock wrote in an article for the Florida Bar Association's Family Law Section newsletter. A cooperative mediation effort "empowers the parties to self-determined outcomes" and makes a future relationship between the divorced spouses more positive.