Resolving family issues can be difficult.  Although mediation is most commonly associated with divorce, a range of other stressful family situations that can strain relationships, such as child custody, eldercare, alimony, trusts and division of assets.  Family mediation can be a constructive way to resolve these and other family-related issues.

Mediators Encourage Communication and Negotiation

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Mediation is a process that introduces an impartial third party into a contentious situation. The third party facilitates communication and encourages open and productive dialog about issues that neither side can agree. Mediation can be ordered by the courts or arranged privately between the two sides.
The job of a mediator is to help both parties understand the other side and to create an environment for a calm and rational discussion. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a settlement. Although mediators often have a background in law, counseling or psychology, they do not provide legal representation nor do they provide therapy. A settlement will never be imposed by a mediator but when both parties come to an agreement, the mediator is responsible for putting the settlement in writing. Agreements signed by both parties are enforced by the courts.

 

Qualifications of Court Certified Mediators

 
shutterstock_387159466-cropped.jpg In Florida, family mediation takes place through private or court-ordered mediators, both of which are governed by state statutes that outline the necessary professional qualifications. In order to become court-certified, mediators must have a graduate degree or a bachelor's degree with mediation experience. They must also complete a 40-hour family mediation program certified by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Mediators work with family issues handled by the Unified Family Courts. The only exceptions are dependency cases involving child abandonment, abuse or neglect which are handled through dependency mediation.
 
In addition to education and training, mediators should have exceptional skills in building rapport, listening actively and questioning assertions. Other important qualities include empathy, impartiality and the ability to inspire trust.

Dr. Lee Ann Lehman is a certified Florida Supreme Court family mediator and family psychologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida whose practice includes family therapy, relationship counseling and couples counseling services. Dr. Lehman is a trusted provider of family mediation services, bringing empathy, honesty and dignity to both parties during the mediation process.