Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mediation Math: Pressure To Go To Mediation + Ineffective Assistance of Counsel = Zero!

How about that?!? Take a look at D.B. v. W.J.P., 32 Fla. L. Weekly D 1737 [Fla. 5th DCA 2007]. This court ordered dependency mediation resulted in an agreement in which the paternal grandmother was given temporary custody of her grandchild. Before the court entered its order approving the agreement, the biological mother objected arguing [1] she was pressured into going to mediation and [2] that she had received incompetent legal advice.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge’s order awarding custody to the grandmother because, among other reasons, the biological mother withdrew her consent to the agreement prior to the entry of the court order and she was entitled to a hearing. There’s more to this opinion which is worthwhile reading – i.e., collateral attacks on mediated settlement agreements [although it’s addressed in a footnote] as well as the rights of biological parents versus grandparents.

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