What is Alternative Dispute Resolution in Arizona?
Alternative Dispute Resolution in Arizona is simply a legal term meaning mediation. Judges hearing divorce and other family law cases prefer for the parties to settle their case and avoid litigating their cases in a final divorce or family law trial.
There are many ways two people going through a divorce or other family law case can use to settle their disputes. One of those methods is to use Alternative Dispute Resolution. When spouses use ADR to settle their case the court will appoint an attorney who will act as the mediator on the case.
That attorney is volunteering his or her time as a service to the court and there is no charge for his or her mediation services. So, Alternative Dispute Resolution is when a judge appoints a volunteer, called a Judge Pro Tem, through the court to mediate the disputes in the case.
The court will also schedule the time and place the ADR mediation will occur. Prior to attending ADR, you will be required to submit an Alternative Dispute Resolution Statement setting forth your position regarding how the contested issues should be resolved. Both parties submit these statements directly to the mediator and, typically, do not exchange copies with the other party.
On the day of your Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference, both parties will meet with the mediator. The mediator will explain to you that he or she does not have a duty to keep information shared in the mediation confidential. He or she will also explain that everything said by either party during the conference cannot be used as evidence at any future hearing or trial. However, he or she should also explain that what is said in mediation may be admissible to determine if one or both spouses acted unreasonably in the mediation and, therefore, support an award of attorney fees to one of the spouses.
The person conducting the conference will then, typically, put each person in separate rooms. This enables the mediator to have frank conversations about the likely outcome of the case with each spouse separately. The mediator then goes back and forth in conversations with each spouse until an agreement is reached.
If an agreement is reached, the Judge Pro Tem handling the mediation can simply record the terms of the agreement on a digital recorder after which he or she will ask if the agreements reached are in the best interests of the parents’ children and the financial terms are fair and equitable. The Judge Pro Tem will then accept the agreement as the orders of the court.
At that point in time, the agreements are binding on both parties. One of the parties will then need to draft a written settlement agreement and form of order to submit to the court for the judge assigned to your case to sign and file with the Court. Alternatively, they may submit those documents to the Judge Pro Tem who conducted the conference who may sign and file their form of order with the court.
Mediation has proven to be a very helpful way to resolve contested issues in a divorce or family law case. Whether you hire a private mediator or go through the court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process, you stand a greater chance of maintaining more control over the outcome of your case if you attempt to mediation your disputes prior to allowing a judge to make those decisions for you.
Call the experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona family law attorneys at (480)305-8300 at Hildebrand Law, PC to learn more about Alternative Dispute Resolution in Arizona.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about Alternative Dispute Resolution in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law 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. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a child custody case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.