Many of the family law cases that move through civil court in Arizona are referred to mediation, particularly if there are children involved in the issues that are being disputed by the parties. In fact, sometimes, participating in mediation is mandatory. So, if your family law case is headed toward mediation, what can you expect?
Well, for starters, it is important to understand why family law courts have come to view mediation as such an important tool. For one thing, directing a case to mediation can alleviate the caseload burden on a court, so there is that practical reason. But, at the heart of it, there is a belief that mediation can help families come up with better solutions to their legal issues—particularly family law issues—because families know their needs, schedules and goals much better than a court ever could.
Keeping these goals in mind is especially important when a family law case involves children, such as those cases involving child custody or support, for example. Developing a “parenting plan” can be the main benefit of participating in mediation, and that plan can be put into effect with the court’s approval.
From an “in the room” perspective, the actual process of mediation is rather straightforward. A neutral, third-party mediator will typically go back and forth between the parties, discussing legal stances, potential offers and solutions and helping the parties work toward a compromise. If the parties do reach an agreement, the mediator will usually write up a report to submit to the family law court detailing what was discussed and what solutions were decided upon.