RULE 12.740. FAMILY MEDIATION

 

(a) Applicability. This rule governs mediation of family matters and related

issues.

(b) Referral. Except as provided by law and this rule, all contested family matters

and issues may be referred to mediation. Every effort shall be made to expedite mediation of family issues.

(c) Limitation on Referral to Mediation. Unless otherwise agreed by the

parties, family matters and issues may be referred to a mediator or mediation program which charges a fee only after the court has determined that the parties have the financial ability to pay such a fee. This determination may be based upon the parties’ financial affidavits or other financial information available to the court. When the mediator’s fee is not established under section 44.108, Florida Statutes, or when there is no written agreement providing for the mediator’s compensation, the mediator shall be compensated at an hourly rate set by the

presiding judge in the referral order. The presiding judge may also determine the

reasonableness of the fees charged by the mediator. When appropriate, the court shall apportion mediation fees between the parties and shall state each party’s share in the order of referral. Parties may object to the rate of the mediator’s compensation within 15 days of theorder of referral by serving an objection on all other parties and the mediator.

(d) Appearances. Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, a party is deemed to appear at a family mediation convened pursuant to this rule if the named party is physically present at the mediation conference. In the discretion of the mediator and with the agreement of the parties, family mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court.

(e) Completion of Mediation. Mediation shall be completed within 75 days of

the first mediation conference unless otherwise ordered by the court.

 (f) Report on Mediation.

(1) If agreement is reached as to any matter or issue, including legal or

factual issues to be determined by the court, the agreement shall be reduced to writing, signed by the parties and their counsel, if any and if present, and submitted to the court unless the parties agree otherwise. By stipulation of the parties, the agreement may be electronically or stenographically recorded and made under oath or affirmed. In such event,an appropriately signed transcript may be filed with the court.

 

(2) After the agreement is filed, the court shall take action as required by

law. When court approval is not necessary, the agreement shall become binding upon filing.

When court approval is necessary, the agreement shall become binding upon approval. In either event, the agreement shall be made part of the final judgment or order in the case.

 

(3) If the parties do not reach an agreement as to any matter as a result of

mediation, the mediator shall report the lack of an agreement to the court without comment or recommendation. With the consent of the parties, the mediator’s report may also identify any pending motions or outstanding legal issues, discovery process, or other action by any party which, if resolved or completed, would facilitate the possibility of a settlement.

 

RULE 12.741. MEDIATION RULES

(a) Discovery. Unless stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court, the

mediation process shall not suspend discovery.

 

(b) General Procedures.

 

(1) Interim or Emergency Relief. A party may apply to the court for

interim or emergency relief at any time. Mediation shall continue while such a motion is pending absent a contrary order of the court, or a decision of the mediator to adjourn pending disposition of the motion. Time for completing mediation shall be tolled during any periods when mediation is interrupted pending resolution of such a motion.

 

(2) Sanctions. If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation

conference without good cause, or knowingly and willfully violates any confidentiality provision under section 44.405, Florida Statutes, the court upon motion shall impose sanctions, including an award of mediator and attorneys’ fees and other costs, against the party.

 

(3) Adjournments. The mediator may adjourn the mediation conference

at any time and may set times for reconvening the adjourned conference. No further notification is required for parties present at the adjourned conference.

 

(4) Counsel. Counsel shall be permitted to communicate privately with

their clients. The mediator shall at all times be in control of the mediation and the procedures to be followed in the mediation.

 

(5) Communication with Parties. The mediator may meet and consult

privately with any party or parties or their counsel.

 

 

 

(6) Appointment of the Mediator.

 

(A) Within 10 days of the order of referral, the parties may agree

upon a stipulation with the court designating:

 

(i) a certified mediator; or

 

(ii) a mediator, other than a senior judge, who is not certified as a mediator but who, in the opinion of the parties and upon review by the presiding judge, is otherwise qualified by training or experience to mediate all or some of the issues in the particular case.

 

(B) If the parties cannot agree upon a mediator within 10 days of the order of referral, the plaintiff or petitioner shall so notify the court within 10 days of the

expiration of the period to agree on a mediator, and the court shall appoint a certified mediator selected by rotation or by such other procedures as may be adopted by administrative order of the chief judge in the circuit in which the action is pending.

 

(C) If a mediator agreed upon by the parties or appointed by a court

cannot serve, a substitute mediator can be agreed upon or appointed in the same manner as the original mediator. A mediator shall not mediate a case assigned to another mediator without the agreement of the parties or approval of the court. A substitute mediator shall have the same qualifications as the original mediator.