For many families, the thought of enduring a lengthy trial, serving as a witness and being at the mercy of a stern judge is frightening. Families with legitimate domestic law issues may be dissuaded from filing a petition for fear of the traditional trial and hearing process. Fortunately, there are several alternatives available to litigants who are eager to resolve their issues and move past the problem. One alternative, known as mediation, provides litigants the opportunity to work with an impartial third-party to resolve their conflicts in an organized but comfortable way. If mediation seems like a possible option for you, we encourage you to contact Cohen Family Law today for additional information about the process.
Applicability of Mediation
Mediation is available to the parties under Rule 67 Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. This service is used to help parents eager to settle their legal decision-making and parenting time issues without resorting to the courtroom. Mediation is a highly-regarded area of family law in that it allows parents to maintain control over the outcome of their case as opposed to submitting the case to the judge for an unpredictable ruling. By submitting to mediation, parties can discuss their unique issues in a calm and rational manner without having to give nerve-wracking testimony or wait months for a date on the court’s docket.
Family Law Mediation Process and Procedure
Parties wishing to exercise their option for mediation may do so by agreement prior to the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or by requesting an Order from the Judge once the case has been filed. In some cases, the court will order mediation regardless of the parties’ wishes. However, parties are not forced to arrive at a decision in mediation if doing so proves impossible.
Once mediation is underway, the goal of the process is for the parents to agree to a parenting plan. The parenting plan is a comprehensive guide that includes all issues relating to the co-parenting of their child. Parenting plans may address all or some of the following:
- Whether legal-decision making authority rests solely with one parent or if both parents share authority jointly;
- Each parent’s rights and duties with regard to the child’s personal care, education, healthcare and religious upbringing;
- A practical parenting time schedule;
- Procedures for the exchange of children including the time and location(s);
- The process to follow in the event the parenting plan is breached (e.g., court involvement, mediation);
- Approximate dates for a periodic review of the parenting plan by both parents;
- Procedures for communicating with the other parent about the child; and
- A statement affirming both parents understand and agree to the terms of the plan.
If you believe you and your co-parent can arrive at a mutually-agreeable parenting plan through mediation, we encourage you to contact us today. We can assist you in the preparation for and attendance of the mediation session, as well as represent your interests in the event mediation is unsuccessful. Contact the Phoenix Office of Cohen Family Law at 602-362-8328 to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in Mediation.