The Family Mediation Program provides Florida Supreme Court Family Certified Mediators to help disputing parties with open court cases.  Most of the disputes involve family matters, either before or after divorce, including parental responsibility, parenting plans, child support, property division and alimony.  Other family matters, including paternity, may be mediated.


Florida Statewide Mediator Search

Parties may only attend Family Mediation Program sessions once there is a current Order of Referral signed by the Judge in an open case. (Parties who would like to mediate family matters before any family court case has been opened, may do so through the Pre-filing Mediation offered by the Citizen’s Dispute Program.)

All parties and counsel must read the Requirements for Family Mediation prior to scheduling and attending a mediation session.

Effective July 1, 2008 the following fees will apply:

  • There is no charge for parties determined to be indigent by the Court. Applications for indigence are available at the Office of the Clerk of the Court and must be filled out, filed with the Clerk and approved
  • $60.00 per person , per scheduled session, for parties with a COMBINED gross income less than $50,000 per year
  • $120.00 per person, per scheduled session, for parties with a COMBINED gross income greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000 per year
  • Parties with a combined gross income greater than $100,000 per year are not eligible for the Court Mediation Program

Fees must be paid prior to mediation. Both parties must provide the mediator with proof of payment or a Certificate of Indigence in order for the mediation to proceed.

In mediation, the negotiations are conducted primarily by the parties. The mediator has no decision-making authority. The mediator’s role is to encourage and facilitate resolution of the dispute by assisting the parties to identify the issues and each party’s needs and interests, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.

Prior to mediation, each party must file a current Family Law Financial Affidavit with the Clerk of Court. Parties with children are required to bring a draft of a Parenting Plan to the mediation.

The mediation conference is scheduled by the attorneys through the computerized JACS system. If neither party is represented by counsel, the session shall be scheduled by the Family Division Case Management office. Each mediation session is scheduled for a maximum of three hours.

Communications during mediation are confidential to the extent provided by law and are generally not admissible in Court. However, if the parties reach an agreement, and time permits, the mediator may prepare an agreement for the signature of the parties. If signed, the mediated agreement can be submitted to the Court for entry as a Court Order.


Family Mediation Questions Answered

What is Family Mediation?

Family Mediation is an informal meeting where the parties work out mutually agreeable settlements in Family Court cases. Parties have the opportunity to explore options and negotiate voluntary agreements that may be submitted to the Court for approval.

Who participates?

Family Mediation provides an opportunity for parties involved in family litigation to engage in a facilitated discussion about the specific issues in their case. Counsel for each party may attend the conference. Other third parties may only participate if both sides agree. Be aware that interpreters are not provided by the Court.

What issues can be discussed?

Issues may include but are not limited to: parental responsibility; parenting plans; child support; alimony; property division and debt responsibility. There are no restrictions on the types of issues that can be addressed during mediation, and parties may come to either a partial or full agreement that will satisfy everyone’s concerns.

When will parties go to Family Mediation?

When there is a pending petition or motion, the Court may issue an Order of Referral to the Family Mediation Program. Both parties must file current financial affidavits with the Clerk to obtain an Order of Referral to Mediation.

Is Family Mediation confidential?

Communications during the mediation process, other than a signed agreement, are confidential to the extent provided by law and are generally not admissible in court.

What happens at Mediation?

The mediator helps the parties identify the issues, and through facilitated discussion, explores options and alternatives to solve them. If the parties reach a total or partial agreement, the mediator may prepare a memorandum or a mediation agreement for the parties’ signatures. A signed agreement may then be submitted directly to the Court for its review and approval.

What if no agreement is reached?

Mediation often clarifies the issues, even when the parties cannot agree. The mediator will report to the Court that no agreement has been reached and that the case requires court resolution. Parties may also choose to return to mediation for a second session.

What are the advantages of participating in Family Mediation?

Mediation brings the parties together in a neutral confidential environment. Mediation provides a forum to identify each party’s needs, interests and issues, foster joint problem solving, and explore settlement alternatives. Negotiations are conducted primarily by the parties.

What should I do before the Mediation?

You should always read your Order of Referral to the Circuit Mediation Program. It contains very important information from the Judge about the mediation process, as well as what your responsibilities are prior to the mediation. Make sure you have a current financial affidavit filed with the Clerk, and be prepared to pay the mediation fee to the Clerk before the mediation begins. If your case involves children, you must come with a draft Parenting Plan. Parenting Plan forms may be obtained from the Clerk or downloaded from the circuit website: www.jud12.flcourts.org or the Florida State Courts website at www.flcourts.org.

What is the cost to attend Mediation?
  • The cost is $60.00 per person when the parties’ combined total gross income is less than $50,000.
  • The cost is $120.00 per person when the parties’ combined total gross income is between $50,000 and $100,000.
  • When the parties’ combined total gross income is greater than $100,000.00, the parties are not eligible for the Court Mediation Program and must attend mediation with a private mediator.

DeSoto County

DeSoto County Courthouse

  • Address: 115 East Oak Street
    Arcadia, Florida 34266
  • Phone: (863) 993-4644
  • Fax: (863) 494-5809

Manatee County

Manatee County Judicial Center

  • Address: 1051 Manatee Avenue West
    Bradenton, Florida 34205
  • Phone: (941) 749-3654
  • Fax: (941) 749-3691

Sarasota County

Sarasota Justice Center

  • Address: 2071 Ringling Blvd
    Suite 614
    Sarasota, FL 34237
  • Phone: (941) 861-4820
  • Fax: (941) 861-4816

Business Hours

  • Monday - Friday 8:30am to 5pm
  • Saturday, Sunday - Closed