Mediation: A step-by-step process

Cindy Best

 

How Mediation Works

First, the parties must decide that they are able to discuss and consider their issues with each other through mediation. The parties may decide to initiate a free telephone consultation with one of our attorneys. Then, the parties make an appointment and come to our office. Be aware that the proceedings are confidential, and nothing can be used in a court proceeding. The success of mediation depends on the attitudes of the parties. It begins with the understanding that each party wants to mediate and resolve their dispute in a positive and calm manner. If either party has an attitude of wanting to ?win? or to ?hurt? the other person, mediation most likely will not work.

The process begins with an initial meeting, usually lasting one to two hours. The mediator explains her or his role of assisting the parties in resolving their issues. Even though the mediator is an experienced family law attorney who practices law, she is not in her role as an attorney when she is a mediator. Nonetheless, her legal background helps both procedurally and substantially with the mediation process.

Issues

The mediator, in an impartial role, will help the parties define the issues, explain the legal process in the state of Arizona and then assist the parties in finding mutual agreements. The mediator?s job is to keep the parties conversing about the issues and help them move toward agreements. To accomplish this, the mediator engages in conversation with the parties to identify issues and possible solutions. Throughout the conversation, the mediator may propose various settlement options.

Agreements

There is no coercion, and both parties must be in accord in order for there to be any agreements. Often, more than one conference may be needed to resolve all the issues. Family issues invoke a great deal of emotion, and sometimes people need time to think about the process and the decisions that need to be made. There is no rush about this process.

Some parties may be able to reach agreements on all issues in one session, while others may require multiple sessions. Additionally, the parties can meet together or individually with the mediator. For example, some parties may wish to sit together at a table with the mediator, while others may prefer to be in different rooms and have the mediator move between the parties, acting as a liaison between the parties. The latter approach helps minimize the emotion associated with meeting face-to-face and promotes progress on the individual issues. Each case is different, and our goal is to find an approach that will work best for your family.

The Parties Reach a Verbal Agreement

Two persons cannot divorce or legally separate unless, and until, certain paperwork is filed with the court. In Arizona, Family Law Rule 69 requires parties to have a signed, written agreement for it to be binding in court. In some cases, the parties may not need or want their agreement to be enforceable. In other situations, it is required that the agreement be filed with the court. Best Law Firm can assist the parties in completing all the required paperwork. We can also draft the necessary decree for your case or other paperwork, such as child support.

Document Drafting Service

Once the parties have reached a verbal agreement, Best Law Firm can draft a Memorandum of Understanding to memorialize the parties’ agreements that complies with Family Law Rule 69. We can also draft the petition and supporting documents to initiate your case in the court, as well as draft and file the consent decree, parenting plan and property settlement agreement to finalize your case. We can draft all your documents, from start to finish.

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