Working Through Family Issues with Alternative Dispute Resolution, Part I – Mediation and Settlement Conferences


We use several different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to try to resolve issues in family law cases prior to trial. When family matters are settled without the necessity of a trial, the parties typically save money and wear and tear on their emotions. Although resolving every issue before a trial is not always possible, many issues can be addressed successfully in advance, removing those matters from the trial agenda.

Here are four forms of motions used in Arizona to request ADR:

1. Motion for Mediation.

2. Motion for ADR Settlement Conference.

3. Motion for Parenting Conference.

4. Motion for Custody Evaluation.


Mediation is a confidential ADR process. The parties’ attorneys don’t attend the mediation; in fact what is discussed during the session is not divulged to anyone, not even to the judge. Any agreement reached is documented by the mediator, who then forwards the agreement to the judge to sign as an order.

Arizona’s Program.

Here’s how to make use the family court’s mediation program, available at nominal cost to the parties. A Motion for Mediation is filed requesting that the court order a conference with a mediator over child custody and access issues. Ideally, this ADR process will result in agreement on some, or all, child custody issues in contention. Whenever possible, the mediator assists the parents in reaching agreements that benefit them both and their children – a win-win situation. Because it takes about two months to schedule the mediation through family court conciliation services, it’s a good idea to file the motion early to set the appointment and avoid unnecessary delays.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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