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Legal Planning and Dispute Resolution in Estates, Business & Family Law

Circuit Civil Mediation

The Circuit Court in Florida is the highest level trial court. Mediation of circuit civil cases includes all serious disputes involving real estate, business, probate, wills and trusts, personal injury, guardianship and incapacity issues.

These cases may come to mediation before or after cases are filed with the court. In most cases, the trial judge will require the case to be mediated with a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator before the case is allowed to go to trial. Therefore, the earlier you can arrange for mediation is often the better use of your budget.

While many cases require the attention of an attorney to help identify the issues and defenses, often cases are sufficiently transparent that the parties may submit the dispute to mediation even before the cost of retaining separate counsel.

Most importantly, parties who use mediation appreciate the value of the informality, confidentiality and flexibility of the mediation process.

Mediations are informal, in that they can take place outside the courthouse, in comfortable private offices, at a time agreed to by the parties. The mediation process is not a trial or an arbitration where an authority figure makes findings of fact or law. It is not necessary to bring your evidence to the mediation. However, if there is evidence which you believe is determinative to your position or defense, you may bring that evidence to the mediation, as you may want it handy to provide context to the issues and the dispute.

Communications that take place during mediation between the parties or participants are privileged, such that those parties or participants are prohibited from disclosing mediation communications to anyone other than the parties or participants in mediation, or their counsel. This means that the parties are prohibited by law from speaking about, even in court under subpoena, that which was discussed in the mediation conference. (There are rare exceptions to this rule, for example disclosure of a plan to commit a crime, or the existence of child abuse or elder exploitation.) Sanctions are available against anyone violating the privilege of a mediation communication or the confidentiality of the mediation process.

Finally, the most important benefit of mediation is that the parties can usually come to an agreement that resolves not only the issues which might come before the court, but also issues that a judge would never hear or have the ability to adequately resolve. Judges can award damages, enter injunctions, and determine legal obligations. Judges cannot make someone pay damages, stop behavior that changes in nature but creates the same havoc, or anticipate future breaches. Parties together can mutually resolve not only the disputes that exist, but also concerns for future problems anticipated to occur.

Mediation

 Conference Room Style, Family Together, Family With Elder Person

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