How does mediation work?
Mediation is an alternative to Court interventions and Trial. With over 20 years of mediation experience, I can assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. I am a neutral third party. My role is to brainstorm with the parties to find solutions.
Mediation is a more time and cost-effective alternative to standard legal proceedings.
Mediation provides certainty, control and closure to a dispute.
Certainty. Control. Creativity. Closure.
Trials result in winners and losers. Cases can be appealed and retried, resulting in vastly different results with different judges or juries.
No one can guarantee the outcome of a trial, but you can control the outcome of your mediation. Mediation puts you in control of the direction and outcome of your case.
Mediation provides the flexibility to be creative, and in some situations, enables the participants to reach solutions that a Court may not be able to order.
Mediation is confidential. Agreements can also be confidential. Parties and business owners can benefit when disputes are not made public. Mediation can protect public disclosure of private or sensitive information.
What should I expect?
The parties to a mediation, or through their Attorneys, schedule mediation. Each party may provide a written summary or other documents or information to the Mediator. Documents may be provided to the Mediator ahead of time. Let the Mediator know if you want the documents to be confidential and not discussed with any other party.
The Mediator’s role is to help identify and clarify disputed issues, explore alternative solutions, suggest possible compromises, develop bargaining proposals, and conduct negotiations in a way that prompts discussion and cooperative communication.
The Mediator does not make decisions or rulings like a Judge. The Mediator cannot tell someone what to do but instead helps the parties reach their own decisions.
A complete, partial or temporary agreement may be reached at mediation. Sometimes parties need more information to resolve an issue. Sometimes parties want to submit only limited issues to the court while agreeing on others. Mediation may be scheduled in several sessions to allow parties to address issues separately.
The Mediator will typically draft a mediation agreement to be signed by the parties and their Attorneys. Once an agreement is signed, it is binding, except in very limited circumstances.
Is the Mediator an Attorney?
Yes, all the Mediators in this office are Attorneys but they are not your Attorney. Each party may have legal counsel at any point in the process. The Mediator cannot and will not give legal advice. A Mediator is only effective when they are impartial. A Mediator does not represent either party.
What does Mediation cost?
The Mediator’s fee can be quoted as either a flat fee or at an hourly rate. Mediations scheduled at an hourly rate will have a minimum charge of 2 hours for a scheduled half day and 5 hours for a scheduled full day.
Flat fee cases are scheduled for 3 hours and must be prepaid. If you wish to continue after 3 hours, additional fees will be incurred for the additional time.
Unless other provisions have been made (or a Court has apportioned the mediation fees differently), all parties share the cost equally.
I’ve mediated a broad range of civil cases with firms and companies, large and small. I never loose sight of how significant each case is to you and your client. I will treat all participants equally: with respect, neutrality, compassion and diligence.
The following is a sample of issues I’ve mediated:
• Employment including EEO, discrimination, and harassment
• Personal Injury / Wrongful Death
• Products Liability
• Premises Liability
• Real Estate contract disputes and foreclosures
• Homeowners and Condominium Associations
• Admiralty & Maritime
• Business transactions, partnerships and dissolutions
• Commercial & Civil litigation
• Contract disputes
• Insurance coverage disputes, including bad faith
• Nursing Home and medical malpractice
• Professional and legal Malpractice, including Errors and Omissions claims
• Americans with Disabilities Act violations
• Building & Road Construction
• Automobile, Tractor trailer & commercial vehicle accidents
• Workers compensation coverage and claims
• Land use and land boundary disputes
• Civil Rights and 42 U.S. Code § 1983 actions
Family law cases present unique challenges and unique opportunities for creative solutions.
While it is the parents who are negotiating agreements and parenting plans, children are the recipients of those agreements. My approach is chid centric. I believe that practical, workable plans which recognize the best interests of the children will always serve families with the best long term outcomes.
Local rules require that you attend Mediation before your trial is set.
Family & Dependency Court experience:
• Child support
• Child custody
• Parenting plans
• High net worth equitable distribution
• Same-sex partnerships and marriages
• Children with special needs
• Paternity actions
• Parental alienation
• Abuse, neglect and abandonment issues including sheltered children and termination of parental rights
Modifications and Post Dissolution issues
Choosing mediation first can avoid both emotional and financial costs, especially when children are involved.
You may choose to work with a Mediator whether you have Lawyers or not.
You will be required to go to mediation before a Trial is scheduled. ( See Administrative Orders on the resource page.) An early resolution can avoid unnecessary conflict.
You can file your Divorce, Paternity, child support or other Family Law case without a Lawyer. While working with a mediator, lawyers may be consulted and/or retained at any time.
The on-line Family Court forms, with instructions, are available here.
The Mediator cannot make you do anything you don't want to do.
Mediation is confidential.
The Mediators role is to assist you in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.
To maximize your mediation time, it is helpful that you bring your completed Financial Affidavit with you, even if you have not complete the other forms. You can find the financial forms here.
While working with a Mediator, Lawyers may be consulted and/or retained at any time.
The mediation process may result in a settlement without extensive litigation. Mediation will be required prior to the scheduling of a hearing or trial. This applies to new cases, as well as cases involving the modification of an existing order.
Because of Government in the Sunshine Laws, governmental immunity, and other State and Federal regulations, Mediation with Governmental entities requires a Mediator experienced with these provisions.
In my Trial practice, I represented Cities and agencies in both State and Federal Court.
The following is a representative list of governmental agencies I’ve most recently worked with:
• U.S. Department of Justice
• U.S. Postal Service
• U.S. Department of Transportation
• Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
• Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs
• Department of Revenue
• Department of Business and Professional Regulation
• Department of Education
• Department of Health
• Department of Children and Families
• Department of Corrections
• Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
• Department of Law Enforcement
• Department of Transportation
• Highlands County
• Osceola County
• Pinellas County
• Police and Sheriff departments
• City of Orlando
• City of Sanford
City of Winter Park
School Boards: I.E.P plans for students
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
Since 1988, I have been a panel Mediator for the U.S. Department of Justice/Key Bridge Foundation for Education and Research for cases filed alleging a violation of the ADA.
Although ADA claims involve a variety of issues, certain alleged violations are more frequent.
Service animals: A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Since 2011, only dogs are recognized by the Federal government as service animals.
In situations where it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, only two specific questions can be asked: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
An individual using a service animal is not required to answer any medical questions. Disabilities are not always obvious. For example, individuals with diabetes or seizure disorders may have a dog trained to alert their owner before a medical event occurs.
Service dogs are not required to wear a vest, special harness or ID Badge to distinguish them from pets. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require any special identification of service animals.
The purchase of a vest, special harness or ID Badge does not make a pet a service animal.
Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA.
Deaf Interpreters: Is a service provider required to pay the cost of a sign language interpreter? Generally, yes. A service provider, such as a Lawyer, Accountant or Doctor has a duty to provide effective communication, using auxiliary aids and services that ensure that communication with a person with a hearing loss is as effective as communication with others.
ELDER LAW AND SHARED DECISION MAKING
Caring for aging parents is a journey so many of us will travel. It can be fraught with conflicting goals and conflicting opinions from family members.
Not unlike family law issues, emotions and agendas can be difficult to reconcile.
Training to mediate these issues requires advanced knowledge in a different mediation model.
Including the right Participants is key to a successful outcome.
This may include not only family members, but Professionals to address care-giver issues, economics, medical decisions, long term care planning and end of life decisions.
Ultimately, the goal is ensure that the elder's voice is respected and heard,
even when it is silent.