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What Can I Expect When I Go to a Divorce Mediation?

 

 

As the best divorce mediation lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “what can I expect when I go to a divorce mediation?” I want to talk about something that comes up in almost every Maricopa county divorce case, and that is mediation. So let me kind of set the background for you. You filed for divorce, your case has progressed usually a month or two down the road and you’re having your first hearing with the judge. One of the topics that always comes up in that first hearing with the judge is, “Where are we going from here guys? How are going to get this case resolved?” And almost always the judge is going to want the parties to participate in something called an alternative dispute resolution. Translated from legal-ese, a mediation.

A mediation is simply an opportunity for the parties to meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, to try to resolve their case without having to go to court, which, in my view as someone who’s done family law for twenty years, is always the best way to resolve your case. So I want to talk specifically about what to expect when you go to the mediation. What is a mediation like? What can you expect to happen in a typical Maricopa County mediation? The court will appoint usually either a retired judge or a court commissioner to be the mediator. About a week before the mediation, both parties will be expected to present to the mediator a statement (a memorandum) outlining their settlement position on every single issue in the case. This gives the mediator some background before we ever show up to understand; number one, what all the issues are and what each party’s current position related to those issues are. This helps the mediator understand where the really big sticking points are, so that he or she can focus on those issues when we go to the mediation.

Now, in a pre-Covid world, what would happen is that you and your attorney and the other party and their attorney would go to the mediators office and typically, the mediator is going to split us up into a couple of different rooms. You and your attorney in one room, the other party and their attorney in the other room, and the mediator essentially bounces back and forth between the two rooms trying to push the two parties together to settle. And I always tell my clients don’t be offended when the mediator comes into your room and tells you how horrible your case is and if you go to court, you’re going to be making the biggest mistake in your life and the court’s never going to agree with any of your positions. It’s part of the job.

The role of the mediators is to do one thing and one thing only, to try to help you settle your case and avoid going to trial. And in doing that, sometimes they give very honest opinions about what your positions are in the case. I have a lot of clients that get kind of offended. “Oh they’re on the other party’s side.” I assure you that they’re going into the other room and doing the same thing. Ideally, the parties come to a full agreement and if that happens, the mediator will actually gather both parties and their attorneys back together and put the entire agreement on the record or even draft up an agreement that both parties will sign. That then becomes a binding agreement on any issues that are resolved at the mediation. Sometimes it’s every single issue in the case, meaning that the case is essentially over and sometimes it’s only a partial agreement. Those agreements ultimately get submitted to the judge, and once the judge signs the agreement, the case is done. In the case of a partial agreement, what it ends up doing is narrowing down the issues that you have to deal with at trial.

I wanted to give you a little bit of an idea what to expect if you have a mediation in your case, and what happens. Obviously, if you have an attorney, your attorney will be with you the whole time. That allows the the attorney to give you advice, that allows to discuss strategy, but the goal at any mediation is to settle the case and avoid trial. The whole goal of mediation is to avoid the risk of the judge doing something crazy at trial that you’re not going to like. You may not like everything that happens in a settlement conference. You may have to compromise and give up something that you don’t want, but you do that with an eye toward not risking the judge doing something else.

So, if you’re in the middle of your divorce case or even if you’re contemplating divorce, we invite you to call us here at the law office of Kevin Jensen. Come down, sit with us and let us have an opportunity to talk about your family law case and specifically about how we might approach mediation in your case to try to resolve the case without the risk and stress of going to trial. Thank you.

For more videos answering common divorce mediation questions click here.

Jensen Family Law in Gilbert
4365 E Pecos Rd # 138,
Gilbert, AZ 85295
(480) 900-2302




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