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Mediation In Florida

The History of Mediation in Florida

Mediation in Florida has a rich history, dating back to the establishment of the first citizen dispute settlement (CDS) center in Dade County in 1975. In the United States, the modern utilization of mediation gained prominence in response to societal upheavals, notably during labor and civil rights movements in the 20th century. Courts, grappling with escalating caseloads and delays, increasingly embraced alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the 1970s. This shift aimed to alleviate congestion in judicial dockets while offering litigants a viable alternative to traditional litigation.

Over the past 30 years, the Florida Court System has increasingly embraced alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to resolve conflicts outside the courtroom. This initiative has evolved into one of the most comprehensive court-connected mediation programs in the United States. In the mid-1980s, the Florida Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) was established to support the courts in developing ADR programs and to provide education and research on mediation and other dispute resolution processes. A significant milestone occurred on January 1, 1988, when major revisions to Chapter 44 of the Florida Statutes, titled “Mediation Alternatives to Judicial Action,” were implemented. This legislation empowered civil trial judges with the authority to refer cases to mediation or arbitration, following the guidelines set by the Supreme Court of Florida. Since then, the statute has undergone multiple revisions to enhance the certification qualifications, ethical standards, grievance procedures, and continuing education requirements for mediators.

Before July 2004, funding for ADR programs in Florida was managed by individual counties, leading to significant disparities in the availability of mediation services. A constitutional amendment effective July 1, 2004, transferred this responsibility to the state, ensuring more uniform access to essential services, including mediation and arbitration, across all 67 counties in Florida.

Today, mediation has evolved into a widely accepted method that often precedes courtroom trials. Many jurisdictions now mandate pre-trial mediation, recognizing its capacity to foster collaborative problem-solving and empower parties in resolving disputes on their terms. This non-adversarial approach contrasts with the formalities and uncertainties of litigation, providing a forum where parties can achieve mutually agreeable outcomes with the guidance of skilled mediators.

The DRC offers certification for mediators in various areas such as county court, family, circuit court, dependency, and appellate cases. Certified mediators, chosen by the parties involved or appointed by the court, adhere to strict ethical standards outlined in the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators. As of February 2024, there were 5,674 certified mediators in Florida, covering a wide range of specializations.

To stay current with developments in the field, the Supreme Court of Florida has established several standing ADR committees and boards, including the Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules & Policy, the Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee, the Mediator Qualifications and Discipline Review Board, the Mediation Training Review Board, and the Parenting Coordinator Review Board. These bodies play crucial roles in monitoring, recommending improvements, and ensuring the ethical conduct and competency of mediators throughout the state.

Additionally, various other ADR programs operate within Florida, supported by statutes and agencies like the Department of Insurance and the Department of Labor and Employment Security, demonstrating the state’s commitment to providing diverse and effective dispute resolution mechanisms.

Despite its growth, mediation upholds its fundamental purpose of settling disputes efficiently and amicably. In the contemporary American legal landscape, characterized by congested courts and evolving societal norms, mediation serves as a crucial tool for managing caseloads and enhancing access to justice. Its flexibility and emphasis on self-determination resonate with a society navigating complex legal challenges amid shifting cultural and technological landscapes.

Looking ahead, the role of mediation in U.S. litigation is poised to expand further. Innovations in mediation techniques and technology promise to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility, reinforcing its position as a cornerstone of modern conflict resolution. As courts and legal professionals continue to adapt to evolving demands and constraints, mediation stands out as a pivotal component in the quest for equitable and efficient dispute resolution.

By incorporating mediation and arbitration into its judicial system, Florida has set a precedent for resolving disputes efficiently and equitably, benefiting countless individuals and reinforcing the value of ADR in maintaining justice and harmony within the community.

If you are facing a legal dispute in Florida, consider mediation as a viable solution. As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator and Certified Appellate Mediator, Attorney Bullard specializes in assisting individuals and businesses in resolving their differences through effective communication, joint problem-solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.

She has extensive mediation experience throughout the state, handling complex commercial matters, including contract disputes, probate disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, homeowner association disputes, commercial and residential foreclosures, bankruptcy disputes, and other real property disputes.

Additionally, as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Arbitrator, she is equipped to handle various disputes, such as:

Collections Disputes
Business Law Disputes
Post-Judgment Collection Disputes
Bankruptcy Disputes
Commercial/Business Loan Disputes
SBA Loan Disputes
Commercial and Residential Foreclosures
Contracts Disputes
Creditors’ and Debtors’ Rights Disputes
Homeowner Disputes
Insurance Disputes
Landlord and Tenant Disputes
Probate Disputes
Real Property Disputes
General Litigation

Want to schedule a mediation or arbitration? Get in touch with Bullard Law today and we’ll start this important journey together >>>