Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Are you searching for a divorce attorney to handle your divorce mediation in Arizona?
Our lead divorce attorney, Chris Hildebrand, provides divorce mediation services in Arizona family law cases.
Chris has over twenty-four years of experience as both a divorce attorney and divorce mediator.
Call today to schedule your Arizona divorce mediation session.
In the modern world, divorce or separation is no longer abnormal.
Many might say that it is becoming the norm.
As more divorces occur, the experience of those, who deal with it regularly also evolves. Laws change.
New solutions become standard, and additional solutions are designed to address problems that become apparent as more and more go through the divorce process.
Many who want to avoid this problem turn to divorce mediation.
Reaching a divorce settlement through divorce mediation has benefits and drawbacks.
To discover if it is the best solution for you, consider both sides of the coin very carefully.
Our Arizona divorce mediator, Chris Hildebrand, explains everything you need to know about divorce mediation.
Divorce Mediation in Arizona | Mediation vs. Divorce Court
Time: Mediation allows you to determine the schedule and the issues at designated times.
Proceeding with a divorce through court can be lengthy and time-consuming.
Control: Mediation means you are directly involved in designing the solutions and coming to the decisions you want.
You can even try out ideas and solutions before signing the final divorce decree.
In a divorce court, you must adhere to the ruling of the judge, and outcomes can be unpredictable.
Deliberation Time: Mediation allows you to dictate how much time you spend on each issue.
In a divorce court, judges need to adhere to a strict schedule and often end up with a short amount of time to consider the details of your case.
In some instances, less than 5 minutes. You may only get a brief period to testify.
Costs of Divorce: Frequent scheduling conflicts between the Divorce Court and litigants are just one of the many ways in which the costs of divorce can escalate.
Mediation allows you to have more control over the cost and typically ends up totaling about 1/10 to 1/3 the cost associated with the typical divorce case that goes through the Court.
Confidentiality: Mediation is confidential while Court proceedings are a matter of public record.
Depending on your situation, this can be a major concern.
The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Grubaugh vs. Hon. Blomo case confirmed statements made in mediation are confidential.
You can only waive the confidentiality of statements made in mediation with the consent of both parties.
One party may not breach that confidentiality without the agreement of the other party.
If you need to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Arizona divorce mediation or Arizona Divorce Court in further detail, please get in touch with us at Hildebrand Law, PC as soon as possible.
Why You Should Choose a Divorce Mediation Attorney in Arizona
You should give serious consideration to using a divorce mediation attorney in Arizona if you are contemplating or are going through a divorce, legal separation, child custody or other dispute.
Our divorce mediation attorneys in Arizona each have over twenty years of experience in divorce and family law issues and have successfully provided divorce mediation services to many Arizona families.
There are many benefits to using a divorce mediator in Arizona as opposed to litigating your family law case in court. These advantages include saving money in costly litigation, significantly shortening the time to complete the divorce, keeping the details of your circumstances confidential and not part of a public court record, and being able to reach more extensive agreements protecting both spouses.
The court has only limited authority to enter certain orders whereas you can craft a more comprehensive agreement that goes well beyond what a court would have the power to order. Call our Scottsdale Arizona divorce mediators to schedule your divorce mediation today.
How Divorce Mediation Works at Hildebrand Law, PC
The divorce mediation process at Hildebrand Law, PC begins with a free consultation between both spouses and one of our Arizona divorce mediation attorneys at our office. This meeting takes place, at no cost to you, to enable you to get to know the divorce mediation attorney with whom you will be working and provide you an opportunity to ask any questions you have about our experience, knowledge, and approach to the negotiation process.
The divorce mediation process can proceed in several different ways depending upon your unique circumstances. Call the experienced Arizona divorce mediators at Hildebrand Law, PC to learn how divorce mediation can work in your case.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost in Arizona
Our attorneys charge their hourly rate for each hour of divorce mediation. Our Arizona divorce mediator, Chris Hildebrand, charges $400.00 per hour. Our Arizona divorce mediator, Kip Micuda, charges $350.00 per hour. Mediation may last as short as a couple of hours or can take a full day if the issues are more complex.
If both spouses want to retain one of our divorce mediation attorneys to conduct the mediation, both spouses and the attorney will sign a document retaining the attorney, and a date will be scheduled for the mediation. Our office has six conference rooms that provide privacy to our clients, and a deli is located in our building should we need to order lunch during the mediation.
What Documents Do I Need for a Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Once retained, we will provide both parties with a list of records and information that should be exchanged between the two spouses before the mediation. Those documents include such things as credit card statements, bank and investment account statements, retirement account statements, and paycheck stubs; among other things.
You will be asked to also send those documents to your divorce mediator before the date scheduled for mediation so we can have that information before we begin the mediation.
We will also provide you with a document for you to complete before mediation listing all of the issues to be addressed in the mediation and what your position is as to these matters. That document will not be shared by the mediator with the other spouse and is intended only to provide your divorce mediator with an idea of where you are at on the various issues.
What Happens at the Actual Divorce Mediation
On the day of your scheduled mediation, we will bring both parties into one conference room so we can inform you what our role is as your mediator. We will explain at that time that we cannot (and would not) force you into reaching an agreement.
We strongly encourage you to reach agreements, but only if those agreements are reasonable. We will then ask each spouse to break out to separate conference rooms. This enables each spouse to speak openly with the mediator about the issues without the other spouse hearing what is being discussed on the issues. It also allows the mediator to speak freely to you about his experience litigating cases involving these matters to help you form an agreement.
We do not share what either spouse says to our mediator unless that spouse specifically directs us to share an offer with the other spouse. This allows our mediation clients to have the ability and security to speak freely with our mediators and understand their statements are not being shared with the other spouse.
We will then go back and forth between the conference rooms until such time we believe we have reached an agreement. Once we have confirmed we have reached an agreement, we will create a Memorandum of Understanding. Either party will not sign that document to provide each client an opportunity to have that agreement reviewed by his or her independent attorney to ensure the agreement is in their best interests and to allow your attorney to draft the necessary court paperwork to file with the tribunal.
What Percentage of Divorce Cases Have our Divorce Mediators Settled
We have a very knowledgeable and skilled divorce mediator. We will drive the discussion of settlement to where we believe a judge would order if the case were to proceed to trial. We do not, as some divorce mediators do, simply “cut the numbers down the middle” for the sake of resolving a case. If we do not believe the proposed agreement is reasonable, we will not suggest you consider it.
Whether you choose attorney Chris Hildebrand or attorney Kip Micuda for your mediation, we will each bring our more than 20 years of divorce and family law experience to your mediation. We have settled more than 90% of the cases upon which we have acted as mediators and will bring that same commitment to amicably resolving your case.
Divorce Mediation Tips
Now that you know the benefits of divorce mediation, we want to give you tips increasing the likelihood your negotiation will be successful.
First, you need to find a good Arizona divorce mediator.
A good mediator is a master listener.
They give all their attention and focus on the person speaking.
A good mediator will maintain good eye contact when you are talking to them.
They will ask intelligent questions to understand what you want fully.
The mediator will not allow distractions to interfere with your mediation.
Instead, a good divorce mediator focuses on you and what is important to you.
A good mediator will respond with insightful questions and clarifications as necessary to ensure he or she understands what you are conveying to him or her.
A good mediator will genuinely care about your most significant concerns.
A good mediator will validate your legitimate interests and mitigate any unreasonable positions you may be taking and are unlikely to be granted by a judge.
A good divorce mediator must also bring their knowledge of divorce and family law to the table to provide legal advice and solutions to roadblocks that occur during the mediation process.
The Arizona Divorce Mediation Process
Mediation is a process designed to bring parties together to help resolve disagreements.
A good mediator typically addresses the following types of issues in mediation:
- Child Custody Issues;
- Parenting Time Issues;
- Child Support Issues;
- Spousal Support Issues;
- Division of Property and Debt Issues;
The mediator only has the authority to persuade the parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement of the issues in their case.
The mediator does not have the power to force the parties into an agreement, nor does he or she have the authority to make rulings on the issues.
The Arizona divorce mediation process typically begins with the two sides meeting with a neutral mediator to identify the issues.
Sometimes the parties may agree to meet separately with the mediator if they prefer.
The mediator is neutral and does not represent either party but, instead, facilitates settlement discussions between the parties and provides practical solutions to resolve disputes.
Both sides discuss their proposals to address the issues.
A qualified mediator with extensive experience in divorce and related family law cases is equipped to provide much-needed guidance in assisting two parties in reaching fair and equitable agreements in all family law related matters.
Many people who use a qualified and experienced mediator settle all of their issues.
Using a trained divorce mediator, which may reduce the legal fees they will pay if they litigated their disagreements.
As a general rule, statements made by the parties are protected from use at trial by the Arizona Rules of Evidence.
That rule of exclusion for statements made in mediation is intended to allow the parties to openly discuss the issues in mediation in hopes of opening communication to resolve their problems.
If you reach an agreement during mediation, that agreement will only be binding on the parties if the agreement is reduced to a written settlement agreement and signed by both sides.
Such written and signed agreements are presumed to be binding on the parties, according to Rule 69 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
However, the agreement may subsequently be challenged by either party, according to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-317, on several grounds.
The following are some of the reasons someone may contest an agreement reached in mediation:
- A person claims they were under duress or coercion to reach the agreement;
- A person claims they were not competent to agree due to some disability;
- A person may claim the division of assets or debts is unfair or not fair and equitable;
- A person may claim child custody agreements do not protect the best interests of the parties’ children;
Lastly, the court may reject the agreement if the judge independently determines provisions relating to the children are not in the best interests of the children; although that rarely occurs.
Court Approved Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term for a range of settlement methods, both private and through the Court, designed to help parties resolve their conflicts.
One such program is a Family Court Settlement Conference.
The parties and their attorneys meet with a judicial officer who mediates disputes between the parents.
The judicial officer selects a Judge Pro Tempore to assign to your mediation.
The court then schedules a date for your mediation.
Another court program in Maricopa County includes Mediation through Conciliation Services.
This is a more narrow dispute resolution process.
Conciliation Services mediation only covers child custody and parenting time issues.
This process is a court-approved Mediator selected through Conciliation Services, and only the parties are allowed to attend.
The parties’ respective attorneys are not permitted to participate, and are not, therefore, directly involved in this process.
Individuals are encouraged to consult with their respective attorneys to prepare for this process.
There is a nominal court fee for this process.
Disadvantages of Using a Court Appointed Mediator in Arizona
A Family Court Settlement Conference through the court’s ADR process is free, and through Conciliation Services, the cost is minimal.
The disadvantages of a Family Court Settlement Conference is you have no control over who is assigned to your case.
You are, therefore, gambling as to whether the Judge Pro Tempore or Mediator assigned to your case is competent in all areas of family law.
If the appointed Judge Pro Tempore or Mediator is not competent, you may waste a significant amount of time and money attending that settlement conference.
Family Court Settlement Conferences scheduled through ADR are typically set out several months from the time the court schedules the conference.
As a result, you may incur additional months of potentially costly litigation during the ensuing time.
The other disadvantage is not all mediators, or Judge Pro Tempore’s are equally skilled at conflict resolution.
An unskilled mediator may impede your ability to settle your case.
Also, a mediator or Judge Pro Tempore who lacks substantial experience in family law may not know how a judge may rule on any particular issue.
Lastly, the two hours of mediation provided is rarely sufficient time to resolve all of the issues in your case.
Advantages of Using a Private Divorce Mediator
A private method of Alternative Dispute Resolution is private Mediation.
Private divorce mediation is a process involving both parties and if represented by counsel, each parties’ attorney.
The parties and their attorneys appear before a neutral Arizona divorce mediator who is typically, but not always, a licensed Arizona attorney.
The private mediator will charge the parties for their time spent mediating the case.
There are several ways you may participate in private Mediation.
We very often choose to use a private mediator for our clients.
The advantage of this approach is we ensure we choose an attorney who is well versed in Arizona divorce and family law issues.
We prefer mediators who have demonstrated tremendous skill in successfully mediating cases based on our prior experiences with that mediator.
We select a mediator who has experience in divorce and family law cases to be in a position to provide an educated opinion regarding how a judge may rule on any particular issue.
Also, we may schedule the mediation for any length of time needed, whether that be two hours or all day.
Lastly, most private mediators can immediately schedule the mediation, which may save several months of costly litigation spent waiting for court-ordered mediation.
The disadvantage of hiring a private mediator is that you have to pay for his or her services.
However, we find the advantage of hiring a private mediator outweighs the cost of private mediation.
Choose a Qualified Arizona Divorce Mediator
Our founder, Chris Hildebrand, has practiced family law for twenty years.
Chris has successfully conducted many divorce mediations.
In one such mediation, the two family law attorneys met with Chris before the mediation.
They informed Chris the parties were too far apart and neither party was willing to move from their entrenched positions.
Chris settled every issue between the parties in one day of mediation.
Both sides, as well as their attorneys, were pleased with the outcome.
So, how to choose the best Arizona divorce mediator for your case?
You need to locate an attorney who has three primary traits:
- Your mediator must have a thorough understanding of divorce and family law. He or she must have the significant trial experience to be able to advise the parties of the likely outcomes if the case proceeds to trial;
- Your mediator needs to be empathetic to the issues each party has a strong emotional or financial concern about, yet still, be strong in his or her approach to mediation;
- Your mediator also should have a high level of what is referred to in the psychological field as emotional intelligence.
If you have not read about the studies and research on emotional intelligence, I would strongly recommend you do.
It is as important, if not more so than intellect; particularly when an attorney is acting in the role of a mediator.
Be Prepared for Your Divorce Mediation
You must prepare before you attend a divorce mediation.
You need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate your position on the various issues, the law that applies to each topic, and the facts that support your position.
Your goal is to provide a well thought and reasonable plan for how you propose to resolve the case.
You also need to prepare convincing arguments about why your spouse’s proposal to resolve the issues is wrong.
You should be prepared to demonstrate your spouse is either misinterpreting the law or misapplying the law in your case.
We prepare a very detailed written Mediation Memorandum setting forth all of our client’s positions, the laws supporting each position, and the facts supporting our proposal for resolving the case.
You may want to provide the mediator with the following list of documents before you attend mediation:
- A Mediation Memorandum containing a list of the issues and your position on the issues;
- A copy of all sworn witness affidavits;
- All financial documents;
- Copies of all letters and emails between the parties and their counsel;
- Copies of police reports, if any exist;
- Copies of children’s educational records;
- Copies of medical records;
- Anything else that may prove our case.
Our goal is to win the mediator over before we ever step foot in the mediator’s office. We have found it to be an essential tool in receiving excellent outcomes in our clients’ mediations.
If you need information about divorce mediation in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce mediators have over many years of combined experience successfully mediating divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona divorce case around today.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote this information on this page about divorce mediation in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce mediation in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and child custody attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys,” Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms,” and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. The procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce further our principles of honesty and integrity. Chris and his staff care about what their clients are going through in a divorce.
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