Family related disputes are never easy. Arguments about divorce, child support, or other family situations can leave you feeling exhausted, both emotionally and physically. Fortunately, there are ways to remain civil where each party feels respected. If you’re willing to discuss solutions and reach an agreement each party is happy with, family law mediation may be the answer.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be legal advice. Contact the Arizona Legal Center to learn more about family law. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
When can I use mediation?
Family law mediation is a way to put fate into your own hands, rather than allow a judge or arbitrator to decide what is best for your family. You can share your views in a safe place, knowing that a neutral third-party mediator will help you work to reach a settlement.
This type of conflict resolution is helpful for cases dealing with:
- Spousal maintenance
- Parenting time and legal decision-making regarding children
- Division of assets or debt
- Other family law cases
What is mediation vs. arbitration?
In mediation, an impartial third party (mediator) guides the conversation between parties and their legal counsel while they negotiate options for a settlement. It’s important to note that the mediator is not there to make a final decision. The decisions at hand are always up to each party.
A mediator will only encourage you to see each others’ point of view. While no form of conflict resolution is perfect, mediation allows each party to have a say. For this reason, mediation has high rates of success.
Mediation is not the same as arbitration, a different form of conflict resolution that’s more similar to a trial. In general, arbitration involves a neutral arbitrator or group of arbitrators with authority to make a decision. The third party will hear arguments and look at evidence from each person. But in the end, they have the final say and all parties must comply.
5 benefits of family law mediation
Taking a case all the way to court can lead to hurt feelings and anger. It can also lead to large legal fees. Mediation can sometimes help you avoid long court battles. Here are 5 major family law mediation benefits.
If you’ve ever been involved in any type of legal case, you know that attorney fees can add up quickly. Concerns about the cost of divorce are valid, which is why family law mediation is a great way to avoid some of these costs.
Even if it takes several sessions to work through your matters, you will likely save yourself attorney fees related to arbitration or trial preparation.
2. Faster settlements
People often ask about how long the divorce process takes. It is an emotional time for the whole family, which is why it’s natural to feel like you just want to move on with your life. Even simpler cases, such as non-contentious divorces, can take time to move through the court system.
Generally, mediation offers a more timely way of resolving things, even if it takes multiple sessions. In the case of divorce, choosing family law mediation early on can eliminate the stress of a long and drawn-out process.
3. Ability to reach a solution you both agree with
In mediation, both parties are able to discuss and negotiate the matters at hand. You have a better chance of reaching a resolution that everyone is content with.
The mediator isn’t there to judge or make a decision. Even if your mediator provides information and opinions, you can decline any ideas you aren’t satisfied with. In most mediation cases, people leave feeling more content with the plan because they made the agreement on their own terms. A third party won’t have the final say in this type of conflict resolution.
4. Preservation of a respectful relationship
There is nothing worse than a messy family dispute that hurts any chance of having a friendly relationship. If you have children with your former spouse, the two of you will likely always have some level of interaction.
A bitter divorce that drags on for months or years can leave children feeling distraught and caught in the middle. Choosing mediation gives you a better chance of keeping a good relationship with the other party, which will serve you well for years to come.
5. High rate of compliance
Compliance is always important, but it’s essential in divorce cases that involve spousal maintenance or children. Each person should feel confident that the other person will comply with the agreement.
In a study in Law & Society Review, researchers found that those involved in mediated cases were twice as likely to comply with those agreements versus those arrived at through adjudication.
Some of this is due to the potentially simpler nature of these cases, however, researchers found that it goes beyond this. It’s probable that people are more likely to comply when they are involved in a decision and have agreed to its terms.
Get help with your family law case
If you’re worried about the time and costs involved in solving a family dispute, you may want to think about family law mediation benefits. Our team at the Arizona Legal Center can give you more information about how the process works and how to find a skilled and trusted mediator.
For help with your family law questions, contact the Arizona Legal Center today. We are dedicated to making the law accessible to all by providing free legal assistance.
Disclaimer: The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We offer low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation.