Your family is in full crisis mode during a dependency case. You may be dealing with sensitive allegations of child abuse, abandonment or neglect.

Florida’s complicated dependency process can hinder a satisfactory resolution. It involves a complex series of hearings – shelter, arraignment, adjudicatory, disposition and judicial. Mediation may be a better option for you.

How dependency mediation works

A neutral third party guides your mediation process, which is open to parents and their representatives. Children, caseworkers, foster parents and other parties also can take part.

The mediator does not assign blame. The mediator’s goal is resolving differences via a written agreement. The professional meets with all parties, one-on-one and in groups, to ease the process. Any agreement is subject to review and approval by a judge.

Dependency mediation covers a wide range of important issues. The issues include custody, visitation, family reunification, the termination of parental rights, etc.

The advantages

Mediation offers more options than the state’s dependency process. You are working out your differences outside the court’s strict formalities.

Mediation encourages civil cooperation, reducing stress, hard feelings and trauma for all parties. Parents and children alike feel less hostility.

In general, the process is quicker than going through the courts. Family services, if necessary, become available much sooner.

Almost everything discussed in mediation is confidential. (An exception is the mandatory reporting of new allegations of abuse or neglect.) The issues remain out of the public eye because there are no formal court proceedings.

The aftermath

You leave dependency mediation with an agreement that proves acceptable to all sides. You will not get everything you want, but that is because mediation is a form of compromise. It is the best deal possible.

Mediation allows you to put issues behind you and secures a better future for you and your children. That is why knowing your rights and how to defend them is so important.