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Frequently Asked Questions Around Mediation

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.

Mediation

 

Best Law Firm provides mediation and alternative dispute resolution services to parties involved in a family law matter, such as a divorce, parenting time disputes or changes to child support.

Family law mediation is a method of resolving issues and disputes during the difficult time of divorce by talking with a mediator to resolve your disagreements. Mediation is conducted in a relaxed, comfortable office atmosphere with the mediator and the parties. Family law mediation can also be used to help persons with other legal family issues, such as separation, child custody, child support, post-decree modifications, disputes about parenting issues after a divorce, domestic partnership issues with children and property, and unmarried persons issues with children and property. There are myriad issues and problems that may confront people when they are attempting to navigate the emotional terrain of family law.

Mediation with Best Law Firm is designed to be a win-win solution for the parties involved. Parties do not require a retained attorney to represent their interests, but outside counsel is not discouraged. It is recommended that an attorney review any final legal documents before they are signed or filed with the court.

In addition to conducting the mediation, Best Law Firm can complete your family law matter by drafting all the necessary documents to be submitted to the court. We can draft a memorandum of understanding to memorialize the parties’ agreements, draft the petition and supporting documents to initiate your case in the court and draft and file the consent decree, parenting plan and property settlement agreement to finalize your case.

FAQs For Document Preparation, Mediation, & Litigation

 

Can traditional document preparation services help me?
Document preparation services cannot provide you with legal advice. So, unless you know the law and the procedures, you could make some devastating mistakes by filling out forms without understanding your rights. Best Law Firm?s document preparation is conducted by an experienced attorney.

How much does document preparation cost?
You may call our law firm to find out our current specials and prices. If you purchased this book, you are entitled to a 20% discount on a package deal. You are also entitled to a free, 15-minute consultation with an attorney.

How long does it take for document preparation?
We can finalize documents within 24 hours.

How do I get started for a document preparation?
Just call our office at (480) 219-2433 or go to our website and fill out the Divorce Coach questionnaire, pay online and we will finish your documents, usually within 24 hours, and provide them to you online. Or, you can pick them up here at our office or we can simply mail them to you.

How do I get a one-hour attorney consultation?
Just call our office at (480) 219-2433. We will meet with you as soon as possible, usually within 48 hours if you are available. We make ourselves available: we know how much stress and anxiety you are feeling. We can also conduct legal consultations over the phone or by SKYPE, as long as a limited scope fee agreement is signed and an hourly fee is paid.

Can I call for a telephone consultation?
We provide free telephone consultations to go over our services and the general legal issues and processes involved in a divorce in Arizona. These phone calls do not give legal advice to you. You can receive legal advice by requesting a ?meeting? (this can be in person, or by SKYPE or telephone) with an attorney, who will provide you with a limited-scope fee agreement for specific legal advice billed at an hourly fee. If you have any questions to begin with, please call our office at (480) 219-2433.

What is a mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third party who can help you negotiate and resolve your divorce.

Can a non-lawyer be a mediator?
Yes, but they do not always have the legal experience to know what really happens in a courtroom. Sometimes, parties are more eager to cooperate and negotiate when they recognize how nasty and unpredictable it is to litigate.

Should my mediator be an attorney and practice law?
We think it helps a great deal when we mediate. We know what can and will happen in court with certain issues and with certain judges, but we also know that sometimes there is no predicting what the court will do with particular facts and issues. Because it can be a crapshoot, an attorney understands the risk/reward of going to trial.

Can an attorney help me if I get stuck after trying to fill out the online forms?
Yes, you can make an appointment and meet with an attorney on an hourly basis.

Are there pitfalls that I need to be aware of?
Yes, they are numerous. If you have any questions, you should consult an attorney.

Will the judge help me?
Judges are very good, but they are not allowed to give you legal advice. They do the best they can within their own limitations imposed by the court.

Can I have an attorney and a mediator?
Yes, you can mediate with or without an attorney. You can mediate all your issues and then have the agreement reviewed by an attorney before signing it.

Can a paralegal draft my documents?
Yes, but this can be dangerous. There are paralegals who offer this service, but they cannot give you legal advice, nor are they experienced in litigation to prevent certain mistakes and problems.

How much does a mediator cost?
Most mediators charge by the hour, anywhere from $200 to $400. Most mediators do not ask for retainers.

How much does it cost to have someone draft my documents?
This is a flat fee and you will know and agree to the price before the work is started. At Best Law Firm, our prices vary, depending on the documents. You can find this information on our website, along with a price list and questionnaire.

Can the mediation reach a custom tailored agreement for me and my spouse?

The relaxed atmosphere of mediation allows for creative settlements that are tailored to the parties’ individualized circumstances. Mediation permits the parties, rather than the court, to control the outcome of their case. The tailored agreements typically result from both parties’ determination of how they will share their children, 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.

What are the advantages of mediation for my family?

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 might arise, and put a mechanism in place that will prevent future litigation.

Once an agreement is reached how can I put it in writing?

Once the parties have reached a verbal agreement, Best Law Firm here in Scottsdale 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 of your documents, from start to finish.

What happens when 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 the 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. Here in Scottsdale, 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.

How does mediation help us reach 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.

How does the mediator help resolve 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.

How does mediation work?

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 your attorneys. Then, the parties make an appointment and come to our office here in Scottsdale. 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.

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