Frequently Asked Questions Around Mediation

Cindy Best

What is mediation?
Mediation is a negotiation method of nonbinding dispute resolution involving a neutral third party mediator who assists the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediation is the fastest growing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method. In mediation, the parties create their own settlement terms, with the assistance of an impartial mediator.

How much does mediation cost?
On average, mediation can cost approximately 20-30 percent of the total costs in a typical litigation. The parties can share those costs. At Best Law Firm, parties can pay by the hour, in a step-by-step process.

Does mediation cost less than two attorneys?
Yes. Instead of spending money on two separate attorneys, mediation allows the parties to pay for one mediator to resolve all of the issues in the case.
How will the costs be determined or divided between the parties?
The parties can decide how to divide the cost of the mediation.

What paperwork must be filed with the court to complete the mediation process?
No paperwork is required to be filed unless you are getting divorced, legally separated or want child support payments to be made through the state of Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse.

Where does this paperwork get filed?
Best Law Firm also provides a document preparation and filing service. The paperwork agreed to in mediation can be filed with the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Can I be divorced after mediation?
You will be divorced after the required documents are filed with the court and a judge signs the consent decree.

Can the mediator also act as my attorney?
No, a mediator cannot act as both your mediator and your individual attorney, because that would create a conflict of interest. If you would like Ms. Best to represent you individually to handle your case, you may visit our website at www.bestlawaz.com. Once an attorney becomes your mediator, he or she cannot represent either party.

What legal effects does mediation present?
Non-binding: A party in the mediation process is not bound to any outcome reached in the mediation process when they agree to mediate, sign an Agreement to Mediate or enter into the mediation process.
Binding: Mediation is binding only if an agreement is reached by both parties, it is in writing and it is signed by both parties.

How long does the average divorce take in the litigation process?
In the Phoenix area, the average divorce proceedings take 6-12 months.

Can I still have an attorney if I mediate?
Yes, retaining individual counsel is an option; however, it is not necessary. Individual attorneys may advise their clients of their legal rights throughout the mediation process and assist in reviewing agreements reached in mediation before they are signed or filed. The individual attorney may or may not choose to attend the mediation.

If I?ve already filed for divorce, can we still mediate?
Yes, mediation is an option for parties even if they have already filed for divorce. Parties may decide litigation is not cost-effective, or that with the help of a third party, they can resolve their issues without the long, expensive litigation process.

When is mediation successful?
Mediation is successful when both parties are active, willing and cooperative in the mediation process. The parties must have a desire to compromise and find a resolution. In addition, the parties must act in good faith, be professional and listen to each other.

Who will prepare the mediation agreement documents?
Best Law Firm provides document preparation services, including Rule 69 agreements (Memorandum of Understanding) that memorialize the parties’ agreements, the petition and supporting documents to initiate your case in the court, and draft and file consent decrees, parenting plans and property settlement agreements to finalize your case.

What if we cannot make an agreement?
If all outstanding issues cannot be resolved in the mediation process, the court will have to decide them. The mediator cannot represent either party if the mediation fails, nor can either party use any settlement negotiations as evidence in court under Arizona Rules of Evidence, Rule 408, and the family law rules.

Are there areas of family law that cannot be mediated?
Substance abuse and domestic violence are issues that are not generally suitable for mediation.

What are some helpful personal documents to bring into mediation?
All of this will be addressed at the initial meeting with the mediator. Each party is under the full disclosure requirements of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, including Rule 49.

What is special about Best Law Firm?
We care. Our attorneys have witnessed the devastation that conflict causes families. We recognize that a spirit of cooperation is a lifelong gift that families can give to themselves.

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