The County Civil Mediation Program provides mediators to meet with disputing parties.  The mediators are trained and certified by the Supreme Court of Florida and are appointed to a case by the court.  Mediators are third-party facilitators who help the disputing parties reach mutual and voluntary agreements.

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure limits the amount in controversy referred to the court-connected mediation program to $15,000.00. Any amount exceeding $15,000.00 is required to utilize the services of a private mediator.

As an alternative, the Citizen Dispute Settlement Program offers an opportunity to settle disputes by attending mediation before filing a Small Claims or County Court lawsuit.  Participation in pre-filing mediation is voluntary and is at no cost to either party.

View Small Claims Court Self-Help Videos

  1. Introduction
  2. What to do Once Served
  3. Pre-trial Conference
  4. Mediation
  5. Settlement
  6. Trial
  7. Dealing with the Court
  8. Collection of Judgment
  9. Satisfaction of Judgment
  10. Conclusion


Pursuant to SC10-2329, the Florida Supreme Court adopted changes to FRCP Rule 1.720, requiring parties to certify the names of those representatives who will be attending a court ordered mediation, as well as certify that they are appearing with the full authority to settle.  The Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee approved the use of the following Notice of Mediation Attendance and Certification of Authority to assist parties and the legal community in fulfilling their obligation under the new rule.  The form is only required in County Court cases above small claims and Circuit Civil matters.

Settling Your Case at the Pre-Trial Conference by Mediation

At the pre-trial conference you will have the opportunity to settle your case without the necessity of going to trial by attending mediation. Mediation is a process where the parties to a case meet with a neutral third party and attempt to resolve the issues in dispute by themselves, instead of having the dispute decided by a judge. This neutral third party is called a “mediator” and is certified by the Supreme Court of Florida to mediate county civil cases.

Give mediation a chance

It is a well established principle of mediation that a person is more likely to abide by an agreement that he or she voluntarily entered into when his or her interests were considered in arriving at that agreement. That is why mediation may be the best option for settling your dispute.

If you settle the case in mediation, both parties will sign an agreement called a “stipulation” that will also be signed by the judge, filed with the Clerk of Court, and the court will close the case. Once approved by the judge, the agreement is enforceable as a court order. Signing a stipulation means that both parties agree to the terms of the settlement, and that as long as the agreement is honored, the lawsuit will not go any further.

How Much Does it Cost?

There is no cost to the parties for the services of a mediator for Small Claims Court cases or residential eviction cases; however, there is a fee of $60 per party per scheduled session on all other County Civil cases.

Please call (941) 861-7833 (information for Sarasota and DeSoto Counties) or (941) 749-3660 (information for Manatee County).

What if the defendant doesn’t abide by the stipulation after the mediation?

If the defendant fails to comply with the stipulation, the plaintiff is entitled to a “Judgment” against the defendant. The plaintiff must file with the clerk an affidavit stating how the defendant failed to comply and the amount of money requested of the judgment. There are clerk fees associated with obtaining a judgment under these circumstances.

What happens if no agreement is reached at mediation?

Although appearance at mediation is mandatory by court order, the mediator will explain to you that mediation is a voluntary process, that neither party is required to sign an agreement, and that both parties have the right to have their case heard by the judge if an agreement cannot be reached. Be aware that if you choose to have your case heard by the judge, you will be held to the same standards as an attorney and will be expected to state a proper claim, present proper evidence, and subpoena witnesses in a manner consistent with Florida law. It is advised that you seek the advice of an attorney, and make sure you carefully read the Pretrial Conference Order and Notice of Trial. County Court trials are not like you see on television. If you are not prepared for trial, or if you do not follow the law, the judge can impose sanctions against you, such as dismissing your case, ordering extra court costs, or find you in contempt of court. It is your responsibility to be familiar with the Florida Small Claims Rules of Procedure prior to going to trial.

The defendant did not comply with our mediated agreement. How can I get my money?

After the court has awarded you a Judgment against the defendant, and if the defendant does not pay, you may be entitled to the following enforcement options:

  • Judgment Lien Against Personal Property or Real Property
  • Garnishment
  • Sheriff’s Levy

But, there are a number of steps you must take and various costs associated with each of these enforcement options.

Enforcement of Judgments is a Detailed and Complicated Process

Court employees and the clerk staff are not permitted to give you legal advice about how to collect a judgment. It is wise to consult with an attorney about this process and the limitations to collecting a judgment. You will find forms and detailed information on the Florida Department of State’s website at:

Referral Sources

Agency Contact Number
Manatee County Clerk of Court (941) 749-1800
Manatee Goodwill Home Buyers Club: Foreclosure Options (941) 714-7829
Manatee County Citizen Action Center (941) 742-5800
Gulfcoast Legal Aid (941) 746-6151
Public Defenders Office (941) 747-6436
Manatee County Health Department (941) 748-0747
Manatee County Victim Assistance (941) 747-3011 x8400
Hope Family Services (941) 747-8499
Manatee County Bar Association (941) 741-4091
Manatee County Seniors v. Crime (800) 203-3099
Agency Contact Number
Community Solutions 360- Certified Housing Education and Counseling
Build and Develop Affordable Housing
(941) 809-2231
Gulfcoast Legal Services (941) 366-1746
Habitat For Humanity (941) 365-0700
Legal Aid of Manasota (941) 366-0038
Mental Health Community Centers (941) 953-3477
Public Defender’s Office (941) 861-5500
Sarasota County Bar Association (941) 861-8130
Sarasota County Clerk of Court (941) 861-7400
Sarasota County Customer Service (941) 861-5000
Sarasota County Environmental Services  
North County
(941) 861-6133
South County
(941) 861-3310
Sarasota County Health Department (941) 861-2900
SCORE-Counsel small business people (941) 955-1029
Seniors v. Crime  
(941) 954-5566
(941) 954-5566
Senior Friendship Center (941) 955-2122
SPARCC (941) 365-1976
The Florida Center for Child & Family Develop. (850) 478-0008
United Way 211 (941) 366-2686
Victim Assistance  
Sarasota Police Department
(941) 263-6021
Sarasota Sheriff's Office
(941) 861-4942
Agency Contact Number
State Attorney’s Office (941) 861-4400
State Department of Financial Regulations (850) 487-9687
State Department of Consumer Services (850) 435-7352
State Department of Insurance (800) 342-2762
Arbitration Association (800) 778-7879
Attorney General-No Scams (866) 966-7226
Consumer Credit Counseling (941) 746-4476
Consumer Fraud Complaints (866) 966-7226
Federal Wage and Hour Board (866) 487-9243
Florida Bar Lawyer Referral (800) 342-8011
Florida Kid Care (888) 540-5437
Landlord / Tenant (800) 435-7352
Legal Aid Helpline (Bay Area) (800) 625-2257
Lemon Law Hotline (800) 321-5366

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