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Mediation Services

Learn more about how AZ Premier Mediation can help you

Mediation Services Overview

Attorney and Mediator William D. Bishop provides premier divorce and family law mediation services. Mr. Bishop built a reputation as one of the top divorce and family law attorneys in the State of Arizona and brings these same skills to the mediation table. Arizona Premier Divorce and Family Law Mediation provides mediation services for all divorce and family law cases including complex divorces, complex property division and valuation issues, child support, spousal maintenance, requested modifications of child support, requested modifications of spousal maintenance,  enforcement issues , premarital and post-marital agreements, and other divorce and family law issues.

Mr. Bishop is especially adept with complex family law and divorce cases, whether they regard complex property cases (such as business valuations), sole and separate property issues, or difficult custody (legal decision making) and parenting time issues.

Mr. Bishop generally adopts a facilitative approach. This means that he will explore each person’s desires and positions in a non-confrontational and non-judgmental manner in order to help them reach an amicable and reasonable settlement. However, if the parties requests an analytical approach to any specific issues, Mr. Bishop will provide his analysis to each party in private regarding how the Court may address such issues under Arizona law. Because Mr. Bishop is acting as a neutral mediator and not an attorney for either party he will not be able to provide legal advice, but can provide objective feedback in order to help the parties reach a fair and reasonable settlement.

What is Mediation?

Mediation involves a neutral professional (generally an attorney) who meets with the parties and helps them negotiate a settlement of the issues involved in their divorce or other family law case. A qualified mediator can also draft the family law documents necessary to process the case, make the agreements final and binding, and convert such agreements to a final order of the Court.

Mediation is an effective – and almost always less stressful – dispute resolution option for divorce and family law issues. The mediation process allows you to craft a settlement framework personalized to your unique needs. Mediation participants achieve can often obtain their objectives by working with an expert mediators in a non-adversarial environment.

Benefits of Mediation?

Mediation is an important tool used in a growing number of legal cases, for all types of litigation. Mediation reduces stress on the court system while allowing you to settle your differences in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Litigation can be a lengthy and costly process. Court proceedings take their toll on families both financially and emotionally. Divorce cases can linger for 12 to 24 months before reaching the court for a decision, in some cases costing more than $50,000 in legal fees.  It is not uncommon for complex cases to cost well into the six figures for each party individually. If a party proceeds to trial instead of reaching an agreement on their issues, many cases return to court after the parties find the rulings unsatisfactory.

Mediation presents a much different and more positive scenario. Generally, mediation results in a resolution after only one or  two mediation sessions.

Industry research indicates couples who have used mediation are more likely to:

  • Reach voluntary agreements
  • Generate more comprehensive agreements
  • Find the process more fair and more sensitive to their needs
  • Abide by the agreements they have reached
  • Return to court less often

Choosing a Mediator

Many divorce and family law mediators have limited experience litigating divorce and family law cases. Some are not even licensed Arizona attorneys.  It is difficult if not impossible for mediators to provide their mediation clients with reliable feedback when such mediators are not on top of the ever- changing divorce and family laws, unable to identify complex issues, or unable to provide necessary language in documents to ensure compliance with the agreed upon terms.

Mediation clients should never be forced to incur future attorney fees and costs because the mediator did not provide fully enforceable terms in the final documents or overlooked important terms. When addressing settlement documents, a common phrase is that “the devil is in the details”. If the final documents are not prepared properly you may spend thousands of dollars in additional fees and costs to ‘hopefully’ get things done correctly. In some cases, mistakes can never be rectified.

Mediators often have different approaches and experience. Some mediators act like they are the judge and can be quite arrogant and pushy during mediations. Just because a mediator was a former judge does not mean his or her opinion would be adopted by the judge in your case. We recommend that you choose a mediator that has substantial divorce and family law litigation experience and who is also properly trained to provide a well balanced facilitative and analytical approach to your issues.

There is no reason that you cannot have a wonderful and compassionate mediator who is also a State of Arizona Board Certified Family Law Specialist.  AZ Premier Mediation provides the skill and experience that will help you obtain a fair and reasonable settlement.

Mediation Preparation

To effectively prepare for mediation, and to utilize Mr. Bishop’s time in the most efficient manner (thus reducing your costs), we recommend that each party prepare a “mediation memorandum”. This is not required but can be very helpful during your mediation. This is a confidential mediation memorandum (i.e. the other party will never see it unless you agree to exchange mediation memorandums between yourselves).  This means that each party will only provide their mediation memorandum to Mr. Bishop and not to the other party. This can be done in any format. It does not have to be very formal. Even a letter will suffice. The mediation memorandum should state what the issues between the parties are, the agreements you would like to reach, your positions on disputed issues and why you are taking such positions.

If one of the disputed issues is child custody (legal decision making) and parenting time, please provide what you are proposing and why this serves the children’s best interests. If this is a divorce case, please provide a list of all property and debts that are at issue (or that you are aware of), how the property should be divided and whether either party would owe the other party money.

If you are requesting spousal maintenance, you will want to address how much you are asking for, how long you are asking for spousal maintenance, and the reasons that you think your request is fair. Both parties should review Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319 regarding spousal maintenance factors to help you address these issues.

If child support is at issue, we can run child support calculations for both parties based upon their respective incomes, parenting time and other factors.

If you do not have enough information to list assets and debts, this is okay. This can be explored during the mediation.

Our Mediation Approach

Mr. Bishop provides different approaches to mediation depending upon the individuals and their circumstances. Initially, he generally applies a “facilitative” approach during which time he explores with the parties’ various options with the hope that the parties can decide together what agreements make the best sense for themselves and their children. At some point, however, it may be necessary to apply a more “evaluative approach” wherein Mr. Bishop can provide expert feedback regarding Arizona law on the various issues and what a Court may do under a specific set of circumstances. Under any scenario, Mr. Bishop will present alternate solutions that neither party may have thought of. Many mediators are only qualified to provide for facilitative mediation – i.e. they are not qualified to provide evaluative feedback. Some mediators rush immediately to the evaluative model without getting the know the issues and facts in enough detail – thus losing the confidence of one or both clients. Some mediators claim to know what the court may do under the circumstances but have little experience or knowledge upon which to base his or her opinions.

On some occasions, a party to a mediation may feel that he or she was ganged up on or that the mediator took sides. A party should never feel overly pressured to agree to terms. Mediation often requires encouragement so that the parties can fully understand how the proposed terms might be in their best interests. However, a party should never feel “beat up” or unduly pressured after participating in mediation. Unfortunately, this is the case far too often.

Mr. Bishop has no biases entering mediation. There is no favoritism toward husbands, wives, mothers or fathers.  If there are children involved, the children’s best interests are a paramount concern. It is our goal that the parties leave mediation feeling like they were heard, understood, and that we did everything we could to make the mediation a pleasant and productive experience.

It goes without saying that mediation is a wonderful alternative to litigation. However, for mediation to be truly successful each party needs to have equal say and power. This means that a party with a more forceful personality does not have the advantage over the less forceful or less knowledgeable party. It is important that all important facts are known before the mediation, or that such facts can be acquired during the mediation. There needs to be as level of a playing field as possible. The mediator should do more than just be a messenger between the parties of threats or hard-handed negotiation tactics. A good mediator should strive to make sure the parties are on as level of a playing field as possible.

Mediation Costs

Mediations should not have to take days upon days to complete if the mediator handles the mediation in a straight-forward and effective manner. While Mr. Bishop’s hourly fee ($375.00 per hour) may be more expensive than some mediators that are not divorce and family law specialists, he also submits that he can often provide for an effective and successful mediation in a much shorter time span than mediators with limited knowledge of divorce and family law.

Over the last fifteen years Mr. Bishop has conducted over 150 settlement conferences through the Superior Court Alternate Dispute Resolution program. This experience has been invaluable in obtaining full settlements in time periods of one to three hours. Not all cases can be mediated in such a short time period, however, if it can be done in an effective and productive manner it is our goal to do so.

Some mediators provide flat fees (i.e. $2,500 for the mediation). Most mediations conducted by Mr. Bishop can be done in five hours or less (i.e. $1,875.00 or less per Mr. Bishop’s rate of $375 per hour).

Mediation vs. Arbitration

Mediation generally consists of the mediator going back and forth between the parties and attempting to work out an agreement regarding all issues that they have in their divorce or other family law proceeding. This is a form of what is called Alternate Dispute Resolution. Thus, mediation is an alternative to litigating the issues in front of a Judge with the Arizona Superior Court. In his/her role, the mediator does not make any decisions regarding your case but rather only works from a settlement perspective.

Arbitration on the other hand is another form of litigation. Instead of the judge making decisions, you can argue your case in front of an agreed upon Arbitrator. Arbitration can generally be a much more streamlined and less complex way to have the issues decided as opposed to the often very complex Court proceedings. In order to proceed to arbitration, both parties must agree to such process.

Whether to Have an Attorney Attend Mediation

Mr. Bishop provides mediation services to parties that are not represented by attorneys (pro-per or pro-se parties) as well as those that are represented by attorneys.  Unless both parties are already represented by an attorney, we will appreciate advance notice (to both us and the other party) if you are going to have an attorney attend mediation with you.


Please be advised that mediation is a strictly confidential proceeding. This means that neither party can address things that happen during the mediation during subsequent litigation (other than submitting a signed agreement to the Court). Of course, it is our goal that we will help you settle all your issues and put your litigation to an end.

Also be advised that as a mediator, Mr. Bishop is not acting as an attorney for either party or jointly for both parties.  In Arizona, an attorney can serve as a mediator, but must exclusively wear that “hat” and cannot act in the capacity of an attorney. Thus, Mr. Bishop will be serving exclusively as a mediator for both parties. Although Mr. Bishop may provide evaluative feedback regarding legal issues, a mediator cannot ethically provide legal advice.

Also, please be advised that if Bishop Law Office, P.C. represented you against the other party in the past, Mr. Bishop will not be able to do your mediation under applicable conflict rules. We will run a conflict check and confirm that there is no conflict before the introductory mediation meeting.

Introductory Session – Free of Charge

The introductory mediation meeting is free of charge. The introductory mediation meeting is designed to last approximately 20 minutes (i.e. 10 minutes per party). During this session Mr. Bishop will address the mediation process and answer any questions regarding the process.  Mr. Bishop then will start the mediation itself if requested.

Unless the parties desire otherwise, they are generally seated in two separate rooms and Mr. Bishop takes turns between the parties and generally ensures that each party has an equal amount of time.

When agreements are reached, Mr. Bishop will draft the agreements for the parties to sign – or – to take to their attorneys if they desire additional feedback before signing the documents.

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