Divorce Guide for Family Therapists

How Family Mediation Can Help Your Clients

As a Marriage & Family Therapist, what can you do to help divorcing couples?

Once clients have made the decision to get a divorce, many couples therapists might think they no longer have the ability to help. But not all divorces are the same. Some become very harmful and destructive, creating long-lasting anger and resentment, with particularly harmful effects on any children involved. There are more peaceful ways to proceed.

Call a Lawyer | Call a Mediator

The traditional advice has been to “call a lawyer”. But the better advice is to “call a mediator”. Family mediators are in a unique position to educate clients on their divorce options without taking anyone’s side. Our neutrality allows us to give advice while keeping the bigger picture in mind, which is helping people through one of the most challenging and stressful circumstances in their lives while minimizing the harm to everyone involved.

Help clients stay out of court

Getting a divorce requires exchanging financial information and making decisions about how to move forward. When there are children involved, a plan has to be put in place to support the children and potentially each other. Using litigation to resolve these issues keeps people stuck in a stressful, expensive, and time-consuming process, while in most cases all of that could be eliminated by using mediation instead.

Litigation vs. Family Mediation

In-court Litigation Out-of-court Family Mediation
  • Lawyer-driven
  • Contentious hearings
  • Low compliance with court orders
  • Hearings open to the public
  • Takes 1-2 years on average
  • Costs $24k on average
  • Client-driven
  • Respectful, productive communication led by a neutral
  • High compliance with agreements the clients create themselves
  • Private, confidential meetings
  • Takes 2-3 months on average
  • Costs $2500 on average

What is Family Mediation?

Mediation is defined by the Florida Statutes:

“Mediation” means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and nonadversarial process with the objective off helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decisionmaking authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. §44.1011(2).

Lawyers may be used by either spouse to help them get through mediation. They are neither required nor prohibited by law:

Negotiations in family mediation are primarily conducted by the parties. Counsel for each party may attend the mediation conference and privately communicate with their clients. However, presence of counsel is not required, and, in the discretion of the mediator, and with the agreement of the parties, mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court. §44.1011(2)(d).

A Family Mediator you can trust

Josh is the founder of Fair &Friendly Mediation. He draws from a unique set of qualifications:

Professional credentials:

  • Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator
  • Family Law Attorney, licensed and in good standing with the Florida Bar
  • Trained in Florida Collaborative Divorce
  • Advanced Mediation Training with Forrest “Woody” Mosten
  • Board Member of the largest national organization of family mediators (Academy of Professional Family Mediators)

Academic credentials:

  • J.D Emory University School of Law
  • M.B.A with concentration in Finance, University of Miami
  • Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, University of Massachusetts

Work credentials:

  • 3 years of experience exclusively practicing family mediation and collaborative divorce
  • Co-mediation experience with therapists, attorneys, and other family mediators

Personal experience:

  • Josh draws inspiration/motivation from his own parents’ divorce, which helps him stay mindful of the children’s perspectives
  • You can read (probably too much) more about my personal background and sources of motivation in this Personal Introduction blog post

There is no substitute for a face to face meeting, even if its online. Please reach out and schedule a brief meeting via Zoom, so I can introduce myself and we can discuss whether and how I can help your clients.

Mediation Services Offered

Early Mediation

The moment one or both spouses decides they want to explore their divorce options, early mediation can help them figure out what a divorce would look like logistically, economically, and emotionally. With a better understanding of Florida divorce law, as well as their divorce options, divorce becomes something your clients can evaluate with more precision.

There is never any pressure on anyone to get a divorce. We want to be the first point of contact when someone is considering divorce so that we can help keep them on the most peaceful trajectory possible.

We offer mediation without lawyers

Mediation is the a la carte option. Most clients (understandably) want to keep lawyers out of their process, but they do want someone legally trained who can tell them what the law requires and what it allows them to do.

Other times, one or both spouses want to have legal advice and utilize a lawyer as a safety net to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of or sign a bad deal.

Attorneys take a back seat in a Fair &Friendly mediation. They can advise clients whether to sign an agreement or not, and they can speak for their clients during the settlement discussions. It remains a client-driven process that reflects the client’s own best interests and the well being of the entire family.

Collaborative Divorce

We offer “collaborative divorce” as a great option for a subset of clients. This process uses a fixed structure in which each spouse retains an attorney, a mental health professional is utilized as a facilitator, and one or more financial neutrals work as a team to help the couple stay out of court by reaching a settlement agreement.

Service Areas

We help clients from start to finish in every area of family law, including:

  • Parenting Plans &Time-sharing Schedules
  • Child Support and Alimony calculations
  • Division of assets, debts, business interests and the marital home
  • Modification and enforcement of agreements

Pricing

We charge affordable rates using a sliding scale based on income. No one gets turned away, and everyone pays less than they otherwise would if they went to court.

We offer a free 30-minute consultation.

Location

Founded in Fort Lauderdale, we provide online family mediation services throughout the state of Florida.

Corona Virus & Online Mediation

Fair & Friendly Mediation was one of the early adopters of online mediation via Zoom. Most of our client meetings were already being held online! Clients can meet online together or individually. They can sign their agreements and even notarize them 100% online. In addition to meeting their concerns for social distancing, there are many benefits to online mediation.

Online mediation is especially helpful for clients:

  • When one spouse has already relocated to another state
  • When they can’t take time off from work to go through mediation
  • When they don’t feel physically safe or comfortable being in the same room
  • When they think better at home or simply prefer to negotiate from the comfort of their own home

Online video conferencing is easy to set up and offers a fast and convenient way to handle all mediation meetings from the initial consultation to the final signing and notarization of the settlement agreement.

Referrals to Therapists

We believe that everyone getting a divorce ought to get the emotional support they need during this terribly difficult time. For that reason, we regularly refer our clients to therapists to help them grieve, rebuild their confidence, and position themselves for better relationships in the future.

If you do therapy work with individuals, please reach out and schedule a 30-minute Zoom chat so when we refer clients for individual therapy, we can point them towards the best possible match.