Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Mediator's background?
The FairVORCE mediators are all Certified Family Mediators by the Supreme Court of Florida. Some of them are former judges and others are experienced trial attorneys who hg ave been practicing in this area of the law for many years. All of them are experienced mediators who know how divorces are resolved and how to help you get there.
Where is the conference conducted?
At the mediation facilities of FairVORCE in Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach or Miami or Stuart, Florida. These conference rooms are set up for joint sessions and for private caucus with an individual party.
What happens in the conference?
The parties are meeting with the Mediator to negotiate the elements of the divorce. The Mediator assists the parties in discussing and evaluating options to agree on the required elements of the marital settlement agreement. The conference orchestrates and focuses the negotiation efforts to help achieve an agreement.
Does it always result in an agreement?
Not always but the vast majority of couples do reach agreement. If the parties can treat each other with respect, meet, discuss and negotiate they can likely achieve an agreement.
What are the Mediator's charges?
The first session with the mediator is four hours and is charged at $1,485. Most couples are able to reach agreement in the first session. If a second session is necessary, it is a block of two hours and is charged at $750.
Who pays for it?
The parties pay for the charges. They are split between them or paid by one party as they agree.
Does it work for marriages with no children?
Yes. This process works for couples who can meet and discuss and want to control their own outcome. If a couple has no children, property, debts or other elements that add to the complexity of the divorce, they are sometimes able to get a divorce without any agreement. If there are children involved, the parties definitely need a marital settlement agreement.
Does it help where the parties need to negotiate a modification of a prior agreement?
When the circumstances surrounding the couple change significantly, one party might ask the court to modify the judgment of divorce. When that happens, they either agree on the changes or go to the judge, with or without attorneys, and ask the judge to pass judgment on the elements of the modification.
Suppose one of us already has an attorney?
The client discusses mediation with his or her attorney and follows the attorney's advice.
When should FairVORCE be used?
If you feel you can meet and discuss and possibly agree, you should attempt to get the agreement before you resort to retaining attorneys and traditional litigation. Your safeguard is meeting with an attorney of your choice after you have worked out the proposed marital settlement agreement in mediation.
Why do we need a mediator? Why can't we sit down and negotiate on our own?
The Mediator helps calm and focus the settlement discussion, compare alternatives, organize and keep the discussion going, and be sure all the normal elements are covered. The question is…are you and your spouse going to sit and fill in the blanks of the settlement agreement or are you going to pay lawyers to sort out the facts and ask the judge to fill in the blanks? Are you going to custom make an agreement to regulate your interaction after the divorce or are you going to allow the judge to impose a solution on you?
How should we prepare for the mediation conference?
You will be asked to bring financial affidavits, credit card & mortgage statements, tax returns, pay stubs, IRA & 401k statements, deeds, appraisals, closing files on all real estate, etc. In addition you need to analyze your future personal financial needs and resources. Be ready to discuss the parenting plan and finances in detail.
Do I need legal counsel if I already have a pre-marital or post-marital agreement?
Yes, you probably do.
Is FairVORCE appropriate in a family situation in which child abuse or domestic violence is a factor?
Generally not. The bedrock of the FairVORCE process is treating your spouse with respect and being able to sit together and discuss and decide. If you can't do that, you probably need lawyers and the traditional court divorce process.
What are the benefits of FairVORCE?
In all likelihood, you will be able to reach agreement on the elements of the marital settlement agreement and therefore bypass the stress and expense of traditional adversarial litigation and the expense of legal representation. You will choose an attorney of your own to review the proposed agreement to be absolutely sure it is in your best interests. That legal expense is a tiny fraction of the normal legal fees for a divorce.
Can unmarried couples work with FairVORCE to achieve a parenting and support plan?
Yes. The parents still have the same obligations to the children, regardless of their own marital status.
We have a complex financial situation. Can FairVORCE help us?
Yes, depending on the case and how well you can communicate and cooperate.
My spouse is unemployed (or part time) can I still get child support?
The child support guidelines in the Florida Statutes can help you answer this.
Does the mediator provide legal advice?
Does the mediator represent either of us?
How complicated is it to determine the right amount of child support?
The child support guidelines cover the amount of child support and related items such as health insurance. The calculation becomes a formula once you know the complete income picture of both parties.
Really, how complicated is an uncontested divorce?
The court proceeding itself is usually very simple. The difficult part is putting together a comprehensive marital settlement agreement. FairVORCE addresses this hurdle. If you have no children, no property and no debt, the problem disappears. If you are like the rest of us, you need guidance and structure to negotiate and prepare the agreement. After the agreement is reached, you go to the Clerk of the Court and get forms and complete them as instructed and file them and attend a ten minute hearing several weeks later. You prove you were a resident of Florida for at least the six months before filing for divorce and you testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken and you get the Court to approve the marital settlement agreement. The Court will then dissolve the marriage and enter a final judgment. You are divorced.
We are divorced and the mother of the children wants to move. What can we do?
The parties need to sit down and discuss and agree on how to change the divorce judgment to accommodate this changed circumstance. You and your former spouse know how to cover this better than the judge does.