Mediation is voluntary. A neutral attorney or other type of professional called a “mediator,” meets with parties and/or their attorneys to assist them in reaching an agreement. If you have an attorney, you may wish to have your lawyer attend mediation. The mediator facilitates communication between the participants, clarifies issues, explores each party’s needs and interests, and helps the participants to consider options for settlement. The mediator does not give legal advice and does not make decisions for your case.
At mediation, the parties may resolve a single issue or the entire case. The agreements reached in mediation are not limited by the results available under the law so mediated solutions can more easily accommodate the circumstances of individual cases. An agreement reached in mediation is binding once it is turned into a court order and signed by the Judge. You cannot be forced to accept a decision in mediation and participating in mediation does not impact your right to a court hearing. If an agreement is not reached you simply continue pushing the case through the court system.
Mediation is private and confidential. The sessions are conducted in the mediator’s office. Anything spoken or written during mediation by any of the participants is confidential and may not be disclosed to the Court or any other person without the consent of the participants.
There are two types of mediation:
- Private Mediation: the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party (mediator) who works to find points of agreement and help parties in conflict agree on a fair result.
- Mediation through the Court system:
Mediation, like Arbitration, is governed by statute. Mediation is also offered by the Superior Court under the authority of Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2238(F)) and Maricopa County local rule 6.10. Mediation provides an opportunity for parents to make their own decisions about their children following separation or divorce. In Maricopa County, mediation of Legal Decision Making and visitation disputes is encouraged by the judges of the Family Court Department; in fact it is required in most Family Court actions where disputes over children are involved.