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MARICOPA COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF FAMILY MEDIATORS

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What is mediation?

Mediation is a cooperative problem solving process in which a mediator who is neutral meets with parties to a dispute to help them reach an acceptable solution to their dispute. In Arizona, all discussions in mediation are confidential. During the mediation, the mediator provides information to the parties but does not provide advice and does not represent either party. At the completion of the mediation, the mediator will usually prepare a document that describes the decisions reached by the parties. 

What are the advantages of mediation to resolve disputes?

The participants in mediation are in control of the process, deciding everything from who the mediator will be to what will be an acceptable result. In litigation, the Court decides the result and parties to the litigation may feel like they have "rolled the dice" and that one party wins and the other loses.  Mediation is voluntary and cooperative, with the parties choosing to mediate and choosing to terminate the mediation if they no longer wish to participate. All communications in mediation are confidential. Mediation is much less expensive than litigation and less time consuming, allowing parties to move on with their lives more quickly.  Agreements reached in mediation more often hold up because both parties have participated in crafting the agreement.

What type of training do mediators have?

Mediators come from a wide variety of professions of origin including but not limited to attorneys, mental health professionals, accountants, and financial planners. In addition to their professional education, mediators have a minimum of 40 hours of training in mediation including communication skills and techniques, conflict management skills, negotiation, cultural awareness, domestic violence assessment, and ethical standards of practice. In the areas of Workplace mediation and Family mediation, the Association for Conflict Resolution offers an Advanced Practitioner designation to those ACR members who have demonstrated additional training and substantial experience in mediation.  Many MCAFM members are Advanced Practitioner and Practitioner Mediators who also annually obtain continuing education in mediation and the substantive areas in which they mediate.  In Arizona, a mediator who prepares agreements for private clients must also be certified by the Supreme Court of Arizona as a Legal Document Preparer.

Do I need an attorney?

Mediators cannot provide legal advice to clients.   An attorney may be helpful to you to answer legal questions you may have during the mediation process and to review your documents before you sign them.  

Can our attorneys participate in a mediation?

Although clients frequently participate in family mediation without attorneys present, If clients wish, they may have their attorney present during the mediation.  Certainly, clients should always feel free to consult with his or her attorney or seek legal advice throughout the mediation process.

How much does mediation cost?

Since disputes resolved in mediation use a mediator rather than an attorney for each of the parties, mediation is less costly than litigation. Studies have shown that mediated cases are resolved more quickly than litigated cases and so, there mediated cases are less expensive. Mediators usually charge on an hourly basis. As with most professionals, mediators who are more experienced often charge a higher hourly rate.

How do I find a mediator?

Many MCAFM members are trained, practicing family mediators.  You may contact any MCAFM Advanced Practitioner or Practitioner members to get more information about mediation.  The best way to find these trained professionals is to click on the “Find a Mediator” tab on this website. 

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

The primary difference is that a mediator does not make a decision or award. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication between the parties to help them reach their own agreement. The mediator helps the parties identify options for resolving the dispute but the parties themselves reach agreement on how they wish to resolve the dispute. In arbitration, the neutral third party called an arbitrator is chosen by the parties to hear evidence and make a decision in the matter. The arbitrators do not meet with any of the parties privately, unlike mediators who may meet separately with each party in a meeting called a "caucus," the goal of which is to collect additional information which may contribute to resolving the matter. Typically, arbitrators listen to an adversarial presentation of both sides of the case and reach a decision called an award. Strict adherence to court procedure and evidence is slightly relaxed in arbitrations although there are rules to the process. Usually, attorneys are involved but it is not mandatory. In mediation, often parties choose not to involve attorneys. If parties have contracted in advance, the arbitration award is binding on the parties. Otherwise, the arbitration may be non-binding. In mediation, if an agreement is reached and the parties sign the agreement, the parties’ agreement is enforceable.