Divorce Mediation

Mediation Attorneys in Phoenix & Scottsdale

What happens during divorce mediation?

Give us a call, we’ll schedule a 2 hour appointment and can explain all the details for the first 20-30 minutes at no charge. If you choose to say for the mediation, grab a cup of coffee and start to work.

During mediation, you and your spouse meet with an experienced family law mediator to resolve your issues. Mediation is conducted in a relaxed, comfortable office atmosphere with the mediator and the parties.

Often during high conflict cases, the involved parties are in separate rooms and the mediator literally walks back and forth between the conference rooms negotiating until agreements can be made.

Family law mediation can be used to help you with issues such as divorce, separation, child custody, child support, post decree modifications, disputes about parenting issues post-divorce, domestic partnership issues with children and property, unmarried persons issues with children and property, grandparent rights, and relocation.

There are many issues and problems that you face when you attempt to navigate the emotional terrain of family law. Best Law works hard to find a win-win solution for everyone involved.

Call Stephen to set up your mediation, 480-219-2433. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Mediation Process in 3-Steps

You and your spouse will meet with one of our experienced Mediators. During the first 30 minutes, we will answer your questions, help with your concerns,  discuss the benefits, the ground rules, and the process. If everyone agrees to continue with the mediation, both parties will sign a confidentiality agreement and the mediation will begin.

We will help you divide and decide whatever your issues are. You will be able to find answers, security and peace of mind and leave with a written agreement.

We start by outlining the goals and objectives of both sides. Then the mediator will help you create a plan on how to reach those goals through negotiation and settlement. It helps to bring a list to the mediation of your goals, such as the custody you desire, the parenting time you hope for, the property you own and how you want it divided.

Once agreements can be made by the parties, those agreements can be put in writing and signed by the parties. A  Memo of Understanding can be drafted and signed. This Memo can then be sued as the foundation for the agreements in the divorce or custody matter.  If you want to go forward with divorce or custody court filing at this time, we can help you with that paperwork process as well. We can continue to help you until your entire matter is signed, sealed and delivered.

Once the Memo is signed, the parties can then decide how to file for the court papers. You can do it yourself or hire the mediator to draft the documents for a flat fee, and put your agreements into the legalese that the court requires.

The mediator can file the beginning and final documents with the court. The quickest a divorce can happen is 60 days, this is a court requirement. When the decree or final order is signed and recorded by the Court, you are finished with the process. The court will mail you your copy.  If you have a custody matter such as modification or establishment, there is no 60 day waiting period. The mediator can help with this entire paperwork process once you come to the agreements.

Roles in Mediation

Mediation leaves the decision power strictly with the parties. The mediator does not decide what is fair or who is right or wrong. The mediator’s goal is to act as a channel between opposing sides attempting to bring them together by defining issues and creating solutions. The mediator will, however, seek concessions from each side during the mediation process. This helps move the mediation process along. Best Law Firm provides experienced family law attorneys who can help guide you.

When both parties come to mediation voluntarily, we expect that both parties act in good faith and have a desire to find a resolution. We encourage participants to listen calmly to the other party, even if you disagree with their statements. We have found that it is also helpful for both parties to share an active role in the decision-making process. Finally, full disclosure of all debts and assets and information required in Rule 49 are necessary. These obligations will be discussed in Part One of the mediation.

More Mediation Information

Mediation is the most efficient and economical way to get a divorce. Mediations are on average 5-6 times cheaper than a traditional divorce.

The cost of mediation depends on how agreeable the parties are and on how complex the issues are. The rates for our mediators start at $200.00 per hour. Mediations can take as little as 2 hours or they can last for several sessions. It all depends on you and your spouse’s ability to cooperate and agree on the issues. The typical mediation lasts about 3 hours. But if it only takes 2 hours, you only pay for two hours.

Advantages of Mediation

CONFIDENTIALITY

Mediation is a confidential process. At the start of mediation, both participants will sign an Agreement to Mediate. The mediator shall not disclose confidential information disclosed during mediation. All records, reports or other documentation will also be kept confidential. The mediator shall not be compelled to divulge such records or to testify to regard to the mediation in any adversary proceeding or judicial forum. Mediation is a safe place to bounce around ideas and come up with solutions with no fear that the ideas could later be used in litigation.

BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN

Mediation is designed to help parents focus on the best interests of the children. The mediation process helps the parties’ remain aware that despite their differences that brought them to the mediation process; they must continue to communicate for the sake of their child. The mediation process will preserve the parties’ relationship which will benefit the child in the future years. It is also important to recognize future issues that may arise and put a mechanism in place that will prevent future litigation.

CUSTOM-TAILORED AGREEMENTS

The relaxed atmosphere of mediation allows for creative settlements that are tailored to the parties’ individualized circumstances. Mediation permits the parties to control the outcome of their case; rather than the court. The tailored agreements typically result from both parties’ determination of how they will share their child, how they will make major decisions concerning their children, who will pay child support and how much, and how to equitably divide property and debts.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 assistant of an impartial mediator.

How will the costs be determined or divided between the parties?

The parties can decide how to divide the cost of the mediation.

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 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.

Who will prepare the mediation agreement documents?

Best Mediation Services provides document preparation services, The Memorandum of Understanding is part of your mediation. Other documents need to be filed to make your matter legally binding as a court order.  We can draft 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… beginning to end;  signed sealed and delivered.

What are some helpful personal documents to bring into mediation?

Bring a list of questions, your list of property and how you want it divided or your custody goals if you have children.  It helps to have your ideas and goals in writing. We do not really need bank statements, taxes, or the like at the initial meeting unless your spouse needs to see them. Generally, spouses in mediation are sharing such documents already, but not all the time. Each party is under the full disclosure requirements of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, including Rule 49.

How much does mediation cost?

On average, mediation costs are by the hour of $250-350 per hour. It could cost as little as $250 for a one hour mediation to just make the actual decisions. Mediation usually runs approximately less than 70-80% of total litigation costs. Litigation can cost $2000-18,000 for a typical divorce: for just one side of a divorce.  A contested divorce or custody battle can cost upwards of $25,000-$100,000; for just one side.  At Best Mediation, parties can pay by the hour in a step-by-step process. They usually split the cost 50-50 but they can make any other agreement they want.

What paperwork must be filed with the court to complete the mediation process?

Mediation does not require paperwork to be filed with the court. No paperwork is required to be filed unless you are getting divorced, want to establish paternity, modify parenting time or child support or need a court order for some other reason.

Can the mediator also act as your attorney?

No, a mediator cannot act as both your mediator and your individual attorney because that would be a conflict of interest. If you would like Best Law Firm to represent you individually to handle your case, you may call us and set up a consultation.  Once an attorney becomes your mediator, he or she cannot represent either party.

If I've already filed for divorce, can we still mediate?

Yes, mediation is an option for parties’ after filing for divorce.  Every divorce is in “litigation” but that’s because papers have to be filed with the court. What happens after the papers are filed, determines the expense you pay to get it all finalized. Most divorces are mediated at some time during the divorce, either voluntarily or by court order. So, any stage is a good stage to end expensive litigation costs and hire a mediator.

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, at a trial, after testimony and after submitting pre-trial statements and exhibits. This is way more complicated than mediation. There is no reason for mediation to fail. But if there is an unsolvable issue, everything else can be mediated and you can bring just one issue to be settled at trial by the Judge. 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.

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. We are experienced, we problem solve, we are thorough and we listen.

Does mediation cost less than hiring 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.

Where does this paperwork get filed?

Maricopa County Court. Best Mediation can provide a document preparation and filing service. The paperwork agreed to in mediation can be filed with the Maricopa County Superior Court.

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.

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 the other party.

Are there areas of family law that cannot be mediated?

Substance abuse and domestic violence are issues that are not generally suitable for mediation.

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