ARIZONA FAMILY LEGAL SERVICES
Court Ordered Mediation in Arizona
In Arizona, court ordered mediation is a process where a mediator, who is a neutral third party, helps parties in a dispute communicate, negotiate, and reach a mutually acceptable agreement. This process can be used in both civil and family law cases.
- Who is this mediator that works with both parties to come to an agreement on family legal matters?
- Can you have legal representation present when working with a mediator?
Find out if using a mediator can make your family legal dispute easier to handle versus fighting in court.
What Is A Mediator?
A mediator is a third-party who is present in the negotiations between two parties, often parents of children, that cannot come to an agreement. The negotiation process is called mediation. The mediator does not take sides during the mediation process, rather helps the parties work through the things they do not agree upon by talking through the issues.
The state of Arizona does not have statewide qualifications for mediators. The breakdown of requirements come from each municipality. For example, in Maricopa County mediators have to be able to demonstrate the following to be considered a mediator for the court:
- Two years experience as a family mediator
- Family court judicial officer or family court judge pro tempore
- Required minimum of 20 family cases mediated or trials held within the past five years
- Proof must be presented of completion of approved 40-hour family mediation or basic mediation training course
- The course must include six hours of training on domestic violence and six hours training on child abuse
Mediation is Binding
During the mediation proceedings, both parties will be free to discuss their side and proposed solution. The mediator will then talk through the solutions formed and help the parties choose the middle ground that is fair to both of them. When the resolution has been reached, both parties agree to it by signing the legal documentation.
If no resolution can be reached, the court will have to hear the sides of both parties and come to a decision for them. Mediation is often preferred over court hearings because they take place sooner and usually consider both parties’ views on the situation.
Bring Your Lawyer To Your Mediation
Some people believe that since a mediation is in place of a formal court hearing, their legal counsel does not need to be present. This assumption could not be further from the truth. Due to the legal nature of the final signed document between the parties, it is preferred if both parties have their representation present during the mediation proceedings.
A third-party lawyer could be a mediator, but when in this role, they are not allowed to provide legal advice. Due to the binding nature of mediation agreements, it may require that you make decisions that have legal ramifications. Only your legal counsel can help you decide if you should sign the agreement.
Understanding The Difference Between Mediator and Lawyer
As much as possible, try to get a good night’s sleep the night before your mediation session as this will help you be in a better frame of mind. Although it may not appear to be such, mediation sessions can be quite intense and taxing. Being physically and mentally prepared to participate can help you participate meaningfully in mediation and not compromise on your “bottom line.”