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Arkansas Divorce Mediation, Counseling and Parenting Classes
Arkansas Divorce Mediation:
There is no statutory provision requiring mediation. However, the Arkansas Access and Visitation Mediation Program mediates issues of access, custody and visitation. Created in 1997 by a federal grant, this statewide program supports and facilitates the non-custodial parent's access to, and visitation with, his or her children.
The program has no cost to participants. The attorneys for the spouses review mediated agreements that are submitted to the court for approval.
Mediation is a voluntary process and the parties do not have to reach an agreement. If parents are unable to reach agreement through mediation, they are still free to return to court.
In Arkansas, mediation is both voluntary and mandatory because the program may be suggested to parents by judges, attorneys, or by self referral and mandatory because many Arkansas judges are now ordering parents into mediation with the program.
The mediator, trained in facilitation and negotiation techniques, assists the parties to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion, but the mediator does not impose a solution and assists the parties to create an agreement. Mediated agreements often include unique solutions tailored to specific situations that are not available in arbitration or litigation through the court system.
Mediation is flexible and creative varying with the needs of the parties involved and the methods used by the mediator. While the parties may meet face-to-face to discuss the issues involved, it is also possible that private caucus, physically separated from the other party, can be useful in reaching a compromise. Private caucus in mediation can be used to send messages, clarify a position, and ask questions and tender proposals, offers and counter offers to either party. Mediation is non-binding unless both parties agree to a settlement.
There is no provision for mandatory counseling in Arkansas.
Arkansas Parenting Class:
There is no requirement to attend parenting classes, but the judge has the discretion to order parents to attend.
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