Family Mediation for Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto Counties

Requirements and Information

December 2023

Requirements & Information

The Family Mediation Program’s operations are pursuant to these requirements and those set forth by applicable law and Administrative Order 2015-8.2. Pursuant to Section 44.102, Florida Statutes, upon motion or request of a party, a Court shall not refer any case to mediation if it finds there has been a history of domestic violence that would compromise the mediation process. The issuance of a temporary or final injunction alone is insufficient to establish that the mediation process is compromised.

Order of Referral Required

You must have a current Order of Referral to Circuit Family Mediation Program prior to scheduling mediation. The Family Mediation Program will cancel any mediation scheduled on JACS without an Order of Referral.

Please do not schedule the mediation on JACS prior to obtaining the Order of Referral

Current Financial Affidavits Required

Financial Affidavits for both parties must be filed prior to obtaining an Order of Referral to the Family Mediation Program. This requirement is necessary in order for the Family Mediation Program to adequately determine the appropriate fee and to determine if the gross income of the parties meets statutory program eligibility requirements. If the parties are not financially eligible, the mediation will be cancelled immediately, even if all parties appear at the mediation session. If financial affidavits are not filed, Orders of Referral will not be granted and proposed Orders of Referrals will not be signed.

Pursuant to Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.285, Mandatory Disclosure, subsection (e)(1) (in part), a party shall serve a financial affidavit in any proceeding for an initial or supplemental request for permanent financial relief, including, but not limited to, a request for child support, alimony, equitable distribution of assets or debts, or attorneys’ fees, suit money, or cost. This requirement cannot be waived by the parties, and the financial affidavits must also be filed with the court. Additionally, pursuant to subsection (f), parties have a continuing duty to supplement financial affidavits whenever a material change in their financial status occurs.

Scheduling Mediation

Every effort shall be made to expedite mediation of family issues. The mediation conference should be held within 60 days of the Court’s Order of Referral.

Family Mediation may be able to accommodate emergency scheduling needs. Please contact Family Mediation directly for special accommodations.

No “Double Booking”

Cases may not be “double-booked” (reserving multiple blocks of time on JACS for the same case).

Location Changes

Cases should be scheduled on JACS in the county where the case is filed unless all of the parties agree to attend mediation at another county mediation site. You must contact the Family Mediation Program office for approval to hold a mediation at a location other than the county in which the case was originally filed.

DeSoto County

Please contact Family Mediation directly for scheduling.


If it is necessary to cancel a mediation, please do so on JACS or by contacting the Family Mediation Program as soon as possible. Both parties must agree to cancel and/or reschedule the mediation. Petitioner, or counsel of record, must notify the Mediation Program, in writing, of any cancellation, and file a Notice of Cancellation with the Court.

Allotted Time for Mediation

Each mediation session is up to three hours in length, and a fee is required for each mediation session. Arrangements can be made if additional time for mediation is required. Please call the Family Mediation Program for information.

Parenting Plan Required

Parties with children shall bring a draft of a Parenting Plan to the mediation. Parenting Plan forms may be obtained from the Clerk of Court or downloaded from the Approved Parenting Plans page or the Florida State Courts website.

Mediation Fees

Mediation fees are due upon scheduling a mediation session and must be paid prior to the mediation session, whether or not both parties appear for scheduled mediation.

Mediation fees are as follows

The cost for each session is as follows: $60.00 per party per session if the combined total gross income is less than $50,000.00 annually; $120.00 per party per session if the combined total gross income is between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00. No fee is required for parties determined to be indigent by the Clerk of Court.

By law, the Family Mediation Program is not allowed to mediate for parties whose combined gross annual income is greater than $100,000.00.

If one party fails to appear at a scheduled mediation session, the party who appears shall pay his/her own assessed fee, and the party who fails to appear shall be assessed for the missed session. Upon motion of a party or upon action of the Court, the party who failed to appear may be assessed both parties’ mediation fees if another session is ordered by the Court or agreed to by the parties. Failure to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause shown may result, upon motion, in the imposition of sanctions including an award of mediation and attorney fees and other costs against the party failing to appear.

Fee Agreements

If a party fails to pay the assessed mediation fee prior to the mediation, the Mediation Program will nonetheless commence with the mediation. The non-paying party will be requested to enter into an Agreement for Payment of Mediation Fees, requiring payment of the mediation fee within twenty (20) days, and providing for entry of a Judgment against the non-paying party, without notice or hearing, in the event that the non-paying party fails to comply with the agreement to pay the fees.

If a party fails to pay the fee within twenty (20) days, Court Mediation Services will file an Affidavit of Non-payment with the Court, and the Court may enter a Judgment against the non-paying party without notice or hearing.

If a party declines to enter into an Agreement for Payment of Mediation Fees, the Mediation Program shall report the non-payment immediately to the Court, and the Court may issue an Order to Show Cause. Thereafter a Judgment or other sanctions may be entered against the non-paying party. Additionally, the Court may also withhold entry of a Final Judgment or Order Approving Settlement Agreement until all outstanding mediation fees are paid.


You must appear at the mediation conference. Failure to appear as ordered may be contempt of court. Unless the Notice of Mediation indicates otherwise, the initial mediation conference is scheduled via Zoom. Zoom instructions will be provided by the mediator prior to your mediation. Any objection to mediating via the Zoom platform shall be filed with the Court and notice of the objection provided to all parties and the Mediation Department within 10 days of this Order. A properly noticed objection shall be cause for all parties to physically appear at the mediation conference in person unless the parties agree otherwise.


The Twelfth Judicial Circuit provides spoken language court interpreters to limited-English-proficient persons in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section 90.606, Florida Statutes, and Rule 2.560, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. If you require the assistance of an interpreter, please submit your request via the Interpreter Request Form or please call (941) 749-3659. Please submit your request as early as possible, requests made with less than 5 business days’ notice may not be accommodated. 

Office Information