County Mediation Services provides court-ordered mediation services in the following counties: Bay, Holmes, Jackson and Washington.
The purpose of mediation is to open up the lines of communication and to explore all possibilities of settlement in an attempt to resolve the dispute. Through mediation, the parties can develop their own solution and avoid a stressful and potentially costly court trial. In mediation, the parties decide on the important issues themselves, rather than having the Court make the decision for them.
What types of cases are mediated through county court-ordered mediation?
- Landlord/Tenant cases relating to the non-payment of rent, evictions and other disputes between landlords and their tenants;
- Small Claims cases for damages up to and including $5,000, excluding court costs, interest, and attorney fees.
- County Civil cases involving claims ranging from $5,001 through $15,000 in damages, excluding court costs, interest, and attorney fees. These cases also involve contract and indebtedness, negligence and other county civil claims, but the amount of money at issue is greater than Small Claims cases.
What Happens in Mediation?
You and the other parties in your case will sit down with the mediator in a private room. The mediator will be begin by explaining the process. Each party will have the opportunity to express their concerns and discuss their point of view of the case. The mediator will help the parties discuss these issues in an effort to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties. At the end of the mediation conference, if all matters are resolved, the mediator will prepare a written agreement for the parties to sign, and the agreement becomes a part of your court file.
Sometimes mediations are continued due to a lack of information or time for consideration. The parties sign an agreement to return to mediation on another date and time. If an agreement is not reached, the mediation results in what is called an “impasse.” Your case will then proceed through the normal judicial process and will be decided by the court.
How much does mediation cost?
There is no charge for mediating small claims or residential eviction cases. There is a $60 per person, per session fee for mediating commercial eviction and county civil cases. The fee must be paid prior to the commencement of the mediation session.
Who are the Mediators?
The County Court mediators are a dedicated group of volunteers who have completed a training program and are certified by the Florida Supreme Court. Mediators are trained to identify the issues in a dispute, promote communication between the parties, and to write out detailed, concise agreements that are easy to understand. The mediators do not make decisions for the parties, do not give legal advice or legal opinions, and do not predict what the outcome of the case might be if it goes before the judge.