Phoenix Family Law Mediation Attorneys
Frequently, as soon as the petitioner files an answer in a divorce, the judge issues a mediation order. When they first consider mediation, most parties believe it will be a waste of time. Our problems are too complicated and advanced to simply “talk out,” they reason. Ordinarily, that might be true. But the presence of a professional mediator makes a big difference.
In fact, if both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation’s success rate is as high as 90 percent in some Arizona jurisdictions. “Good faith” typically means the party puts all cards on the table and is willing to compromise in order to get a deal done.
The Phoenix family law mediation attorneys at Stratton Family Law maximize the benefits of mediation, as outlined below. At the same time, our professional team always upholds your legal and financial rights. Agreed settlements are usually best for everyone, as long as they do not involve unnecessary sacrifice.
Cost Benefits of Mediation
Legal fees are usually by far the highest economic cost in a divorce action. Typically, time is literally money in these matters, since most Maricopa County family law attorneys charge by the hour.
Therefore, the sooner the case ends, the less costly it is. Frequently, mediation shortens the length of a family law case by several weeks or months. Generally, mediation occurs once discovery is at least substantially complete. Once both parties can put all their cards on the table as mentioned above, there is no reason why mediation cannot take place.
Additionally, a one-day mediation is far less time-consuming than a multi-day trial. It is also easier to prepare for mediation than to prepare for trial. More on that below.
Mediation does not just control financial costs. It also reduces emotional costs. Almost all divorces are emotionally costly. Stress, anxiety, and grief prevent people from spending time in other areas. Once a family law case ends, these costs end as well.
This factor is more important than ever, largely because of Arizona’s co-parenting law. Mediation promotes civility, mostly because of its structure.
Generally, mediation takes place outside a courtroom. So, the proceeding is more relaxed. Furthermore, mediation is private. There is no court reporter present and no official record made.
Following a brief joint session in which Phoenix mediation lawyers make brief opening statements, the parties retire to separate rooms. Then, the mediator conducts shuttle diplomacy, conveying settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth.
As a result, there is no big emotional showdown. Additionally, the parties need not air their “dirty laundry” in public.
Accommodations to this process are available. For example, if physical safety is a concern due to prior abuse, a Phoenix family law attorney can arrange for onsite security or teleconference mediation.
The increased civility often means that there are fewer lasting emotional wounds. That bodes well for the children. Moreover, mediation is often an empowering event. Subsequent disagreements and difficulties are practically inevitable. Frequently, the parties reason that if they talked out their difference before, they can do so again. This aspect leads directly to the final key benefit of mediation, which is. . .
Greater Control Over the Outcome
Almost all Arizona family law trials are bench trials. By design, the judge knows almost nothing about the family or its circumstances. That impartiality is often the key to a fair decision. However, some people have a hard time accepting an outcome which a remote judge seemingly dictated unilaterally. That’s especially true if the person has an issue accepting authority.
Mediation has the opposite dynamic. The third-party mediator is a facilitator as opposed to a decision-maker. Additionally, a Phoenix family law attorney is not a decision-maker either. During mediation, attorneys are more like advisors.
Instead, the parties have almost complete control over the outcome. This control contributes to the feelings of empowerment mentioned above. Additionally, control usually increases voluntary compliance. That means fewer motions to modify, and more importantly, fewer motions to enforce. Since these things mean lower legal fees in the future, mediation effectively ties everything together.
Other Resolution Options
Sometimes, a trial is the best alternative. Many parties are so far apart in areas like the property division or child custody that an agreed settlement is not a realistic possibility. Other parties want or need the emotional closure that trials sometimes offer.
Other alternative dispute resolution methods are available as well. One example is the mini-trial. Phoenix family law attorneys make opening statements, and the judge or jury issues a decision based on those statements.
Collaborative law is rather popular as well. Strictly speaking, collaborative law is a litigation alternative as opposed to a dispute resolution alternative.
The parties attend joint negotiation sessions about once a month. During these sessions, they discuss various emotional and financial issues. If outside experts are needed, such as accountants or real estate appraisers, the parties proportionally divide the cost. Frequently, collaborative law resolves even bitterly-contested divorces in as little as six or eight meetings.
If the process breaks down, the parties must start over with new Phoenix family law attorneys. This safeguard ensures that both parties and attorneys are fully committed to the collaborative law process.
Mediation is not always successful, but it is usually at least worth a try. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Phoenix, contact Stratton Family Law. After-hours visits are available.