The Story of Affordable Mediation
By Mara Linder
After working as an attorney for years, I had been almost constantly frustrated with the litigation and court process. I witnessed clients struggle with huge financial costs, emotional wear and tear, fighting, and unpredictable rulings that characterize the litigation process. I would encourage my clients towards finding a settlement in order to stop the bleeding and enable them to move forward with their lives. The problem was often the other side was not willing to work out a settlement. I was intrigued by the human element of the divorce process and sought to approach divorce from the perspective of the couple and family.
Out of my desire to improve my clients’ experience and to help people in a more personal way, I went back to school and obtained my Master’s degree in Professional Counseling. The perspective that my Master’s training provided has helped me address the emotional fuel that runs the cycle of litigation. It provides me with deeper insight into why people fight, what motivates us to waste our energies in debilitating lawsuits, and how we can heal and move forward after an emotional trauma.
Our approach is a client-centered approach based on the teachings of Carl Rogers (Person-Centered, Client-Center, Rogerian Counseling Theories), who, in my opinion, is the founder of mediation. Mediation is actually based in psychology, not law. It’s focus is on helping individuals, couples and families find the best path and the healthiest way to move forward by giving them a compassionate, supportive, non-judgmental environment to be heard and explore options. We do not conduct “settlement negotiations.” That’s what I call the “mediation” sessions that attorneys schedule in the middle of litigation where meetings usually are conducted in separate rooms with lawyers controlling the discussion and litigation strategy. Instead, in our mediation process, we cut through all that and focus on the couple’s real goals, needs and hopes. In getting down to the basic human level and honoring the history of the marriage and the couple’s different perspectives, people are able to see their way to creative, workable solutions.
Since 2007, I have been using my legal background, my counseling skills, and Mediation training to help divorcing couples move forward with their lives. I believe that families can emerge from a divorce better than they were before. I have mediated 1000s of divorce cases with almost every case finding a mutually acceptable settlement and avoiding court and the stress of litigation.
I founded Affordable Mediation in Phoenix, Arizona to focus on providing a better alternative for couples going through a separation or divorce. Affordable Mediation helps couples navigate the legal and emotional maze of divorce by providing significant support, assistance, and guidance at a fraction of the cost of hiring attorneys.
Since opening our doors in our first North Central Phoenix office in 2010, I’ve been fortunate to expand to other locations in the West Valley (Goodyear, then Avondale) and East Valley (Tempe) to better serve couples in different parts of our Phoenix valley. Also, we’ve added a great team since then, including several part-time Mediators, our intern and Mediator, Lorena Benítez Garzón who established the Spanish speaking side of our business (and has relocated back to Ecuador, but still is available remotely), and our Divorce and Co-parenting Coach and mediator, Karen Dorsey. We are also including the services of a divorce financial analyst and a retirement specialist. Our expanded team is here to help couples and families transition to a healthier future.