Helpful Hints from Affordable Mediation

New 2018 Child Support Guidelines in Divorce Mediation

April 20th, 2018 by

www.AffordableMediationAZ.comThe Arizona Supreme Court has adopted new child support guidelines effective April 1, 2018. The child support amounts remain essentially the same.  The major changes include:

  1. The designation of parents is changed from Father/Mother to Parent A/Parent B
  2. The self-support reserve amount has been increased from $1,115 to $1,456, which may affect lower income earners but should have no effect or higher wage earners
  3. The final support obligation field will automatically round up or down so that “cents” are eliminated
  4. The Child Support calculator has been updated

The 2018 Child Support Guidelines will be effective for all child support orders, whether original orders or modification of previous orders, entered after March 31, 2018, except in cases of default or as otherwise agreed upon by the parties.

A common topic in divorce mediation is the amount of Child Support that should be paid.  In my mediations, we typically work with the Arizona Child Support Calculator, but also approach the numbers from a realistic goal and financial perspective.  Sometimes, the number the calculator results in an amount that is not workable for a family.  Other times, it doesn’t take into consideration unique situations, such as one parent paying for a significant percentage of the children’s expenses.  Or maybe the number is just too low to cover the actual living expenses of the children.

In looking at the big picture and common goals for the children, many of my divorce mediation clients mutually agree on a child support number that works for their family.  So, we use the Arizona Child Support Calculator as a tool, but often deviate from the bottom line.  So, frankly, the new 2018 changes likely won’t affect most divorce mediation couples.

For questions about how child support might work with your particular situation, feel free to contact me at 602-622-2008.

For additional information, review: 2018 Guidelines and 2018 Child Support Calculator

Healthy Tips When Moving Through the Divorce Process

June 16th, 2017 by

Health and DivorceIn working with divorce mediation clients, I am privy to the emotions and stress most people experience while going through a divorce. Here are a few tips and resources to help restore balance, promote relaxation and instill some calm energy:

  • Try not to read negative articles or social media that focus on negative thoughts, feelings or events. Keeping your mind focused on more productive, empowering and feel-good messages, can go a long way to elevating your mood and enhancing your coping mechanisms
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise – it doesn’t matter if it’s walking, dancing, weight lifting, or whatever else you fancy – we all know the healthy benefits of exercise on mind, body and mood
  • Take time to spoil or pamper yourself unplugged. Turn off your phone, iPad, computer and TV. Devote an hour (or more) per week where you just check out and do something…Just…For…You…
  • Eat healthier – there is a ton of research out there that supports what we eat affects our mind and body. So, don’t wait for New Year’s – make a resolution now to commit to healthier eating.

Here is a great and helpful article from on 10 foods that naturally reduce stress and anxiety. Who knew oatmeal can produce a relaxed mood?!: Top 10

Mediation Light: New Affordable and Express Divorce Mediation Packages in Phoenix

June 14th, 2017 by

Divorce Mediation documents

I’ve been getting a lot of calls from Phoenix couples who already have worked out their divorce agreements and are looking for help with their divorce documents and some guidance through the process. For these couples, full-blown mediation may not always be needed or wanted. So, I decided to offer an express and even less expensive divorce mediation option for those of you who would like this choice.

Affordable Mediation is pleased to announce that we are now offering “Mediation Light:” a streamlined, professional express mediation package at a very reasonable cost: $695.00 without minor children and $995.00 with minor children. These are designed for couples who have most items already agreed and are looking for a seasoned professional to guide them through the legal nuances and document preparation.

You will meet with your mediator for a 2-3 hour session where your questions will be answered and all of your divorce documents will be prepared with detailed step by step filing instructions with the Court.

If you need more discussion/mediation to assist in reaching your final agreements, we still offer Full Service mediation sessions with costs ranging from $1,800-$3,500. Please contact me (Mara Linder) at 602-622-2008 for more information.

My Divorce Mediations: High Value, Low Cost

April 6th, 2017 by


A lot of my Phoenix divorce mediation clients seek me out not only because they prefer a gentler, more cooperative divorce process, but because, quite frankly, I’m a lot cheaper than most other mediation companies. How can this be? Are the services still good? Why are the fees so much less?

I’ll let you in on my not so secret, “secret sauce:” (1) low overhead and (2) a desire to make to divorce mediation services accessible to more couples and families. Yep, that’s it.

I don’t have a high rent address. I don’t have a glossy marketing budget. I don’t have any staff (I truly am chief cook and bottle washer). It’s just me.

As a result, I don’t have to mark up my services and I can keep the overall costs of your divorce very reasonable and affordable, while still providing high value. The average divorce mediation with Affordable Mediation costs $1,800-$2,500 without minor children and $2,800-$3,500 with minor children (sometimes even less). That’s all.

The added bonus is that you are still getting high quality, professional services from a 25-year seasoned Arizona attorney with a background in Counseling Psychology. My approach is from a positive psychology standpoint. I have been fortunate to have mediated for 10 years with well over 700 divorcing couples. I’m humbled and honored that so many of you have entrusted me with your personal situations as you have chosen to move forward into new lives for yourselves and your kids. Thank you!

How to Split Chicago Cubs World Series Tickets in a Divorce

November 2nd, 2016 by

world-seriesThere are many interesting items that become at issue when trying to divide marital assets equitably in a divorce. As a Phoenix Divorce Mediator, I’ve been asked to address how to divvy up everything from Duran Duran memorabilia to gold coins stored under the bed, not to mention the ever pervasive airline points. So, it came as no surprise when I read about a divorcing mom’s emergency petition to obtain Cubs World Series tickets for Game 5 last Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

Like most things in a divorce, couples want a fair way to split assets (and debts). There are no hard and fast rules for items like tickets and airline points, but, typically my mediation clients tend to find ways to share these items. For airline points, some couples simply transfer 50% to the other’s account. Or where the airline won’t allow that, the one with the points will purchase tickets for the other upon request. Others have traded miles for other assets, such as the smart TV or the new iPads. As long as it feels fair to each person, why not?

I ask my divorce mediation couples to think about prioritizing their top 3 items that they feel are important to them. Then, suggest a compromise on the others. However, what about a case where both are Cubs fans and really, really want to attend the World Series?

Well, in this case, the Judge’s solution was to let the husband keep the tickets and take the couple’s son to Game 5, BUT he also ruled that the husband had to buy a new ticket for the wife in a comparable section to his. Note that the tickets start at around $3,000! Well, I think the Judge hit that one out of the park! What do you think?

Trick or Treat Tips for Divorced Parents

October 29th, 2016 by

Trick or TreatAlthough Halloween isn’t typically considered a “major” holiday by my divorce mediation clients, some of your little ghouls and goblins may disagree. Many kids report Halloween is their favorite holiday. So, how do you keep this a fun holiday and avoid any post-divorce parenting time drama?

  1. Go Together. This is a good time to model that modern co-parenting relationship to which you and your ex committed. It’s only a few hours. Like many other events in your kids’ lives, there will be times when it’s important you both show up.
  2. Split the Holiday. If taking them trick or treating is not emotionally or logistically practical, you can either each take them for 1 hour or so. More houses. More candy. More time with mom and dad.
  3. Split the activities surrounding Halloween. One parent can take them to the school Halloween festivities or Pumpkin patch festival and the other can take them Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night. Then alternate years. Make sure you discuss this with your little superheroes ahead of time, so they have clear expectations.
  4. Communicate. Ensure you both are on the same page about who will be driving the kids and where. What time will trick or treating begin and end. Who is helping with costumes. What safety measures will be put in place.
  5. Be Nice not Scary. Try to be civil with your ex and put aside any resentment or anger for the evening. Have fun yourself.

As with everything else we do as parents, please keep putting your kids first. Unlike other holidays, Halloween really is all about the kids. Do your best to keep it that way. After the costumes are put away, the sugar high worn off, and their off to sleep, reward yourself with chocolate or other sweets. I’ll be you know where you can find some!