Is Mediation Mandatory in Florida

by Carol from Jacksonville, Florida, Duval County

My ex has filed a petition to terminate/modify alimony. The divorce was 10 years ago; after 26 yrs of marriage, I was awarded $700/month.

Since the divorce, he has earned some big bucks in construction in the Florida Panhandle.

In January, he was laid off from construction management position at the beach. Since that time he has been writing me, wanting to stop alimony payments. Our (adult) children say he has been enjoying 'unemployment'. The financial affidavit he filed shows '0' assets.

His attorney told me the assets are irrelevant; only income counts here. She said when she gets my response and financial affidavit, we will go to mediation. Do I have to go through mediation? If so, I would like to go into mediation knowing what his assets are. How do I get that information?

Answer to Florida Divorce Question

Dear Carol,

Very good questions regarding Florida alimony and mediation. First, your husband has the right to petition the court for a modification of alimony.

The key here is that there has been a "substantial change" in circumstances. This is what he must prove in front of a judge or to an impartial mediator, and by extension, to you.

Mediation must be agreed to by both parties.

Many cases are resolved through mediation because it is much cheaper to have a mediator involved with a case than to pay lawyers to do the great deal of work necessary to prepare for and then go to trial before a judge.

Mediators cannot force a settlement on anyone but they can use their skills to show people what would be a reasonable settlement, and further advise them as to what the
Court might do if it goes to trial.

Sometimes it is just good to have a neutral party that both sides will listen to and assist with the settlement negotiations. You shouldn't go to mediation though, until the discovery process (depositions and the exchange of financial documents) has provided you with a complete picture of you and your ex's finances, and the strengths and weaknesses of your cases.

Having said that, if you believe that the financial disclosure is not proper you can file a Standard Family Law Interrogatories for Modification Proceedings, Form 12.930(c) along with a Notice of Service of Standard Family Law Interrogatories. These forms will help you get more information from him and his attorney.

We have a customized interactive fillable PDF packet of the Standard Family Law Interrogatories for Modification Proceedings form which includes a page for additional interrogatory questions along with the required Notice of Service form (also PDF fillable). You can purchase it here ($4.95) for instant downloading.

Modification proceedings can be tricky to pursue Pro-se. We recommend that you seek legal advice and get representation. You have a lot at stake here. Especially since your ex has counsel representing him.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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