Mediation in Arizona

Divorce doesn’t always have to be contentious, nor does it have to end up in court. If there are issues that need to be resolved in your divorce, there are alternative ways to do so which are quicker and less expensive than settling it in court if you are both willing to work at it and reach a compromise.

One of these is mediation. Mediation in general is a voluntary alternative, but divorce cases in Arizona have to go through mandatory mediation before it goes before a judge. The rationale behind this is mediation will lighten the load on the court system.

Mediation is often confused with arbitration, which is not a trial but similar to it in that it is adversarial where the arbitrator acts like a judge, listening to all the evidence and then making a decision which is final and binding to both parties. Mediation is more conciliatory, where the mediator merely facilitates the negotiations that will hopefully result in a mutually agreeable resolution but is not there to force it or to make a decision. In other words, a couple involved in mediation continues to control the outcome of the dispute. It is recommended that divorce lawyers are present to protect the interests of both parties.

Mediation is generally not regulated by state law, although in Arizona the parties are bound by confidentiality; what transpires in mediation stays in mediation. In this sense, anyone can serve as a mediator and does not even need to have any experience or knowledge to do it professionally. It is crucial that a mediator from a professional organization is selected to handle mediation for any hope at arriving at a satisfactory resolution.

In some instances, a lawyer may take on the role of mediator by virtue of their legal knowledge, but it isn’t necessary.

The duration of mediation will depend on how much each spouse is willing to compromise; the more flexible they are, the shorter the length of time it will take. Mediators are usually paid by the hour, but in mandatory mediation, the mediators are volunteers and the parties will not have to pay them anything.