The ASU Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program has established the Foreclosure Mediation Unit (“FMU”), funded by a grant from the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Arizona, to help address the high level of foreclosures in Arizona. The goals of FMU are to provide impartial mediation services between lenders and homeowners facing foreclosure, to conduct educational programs for the general public with regard to housing issues, and to train law students in commercial mediation skills. After identifying bankruptcy as a potential area of need, FMU’s personnel met with judges, creditors’ counsel, debtors’ counsel and other interested parties in the area.
Ultimately, FMU and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona agreed to partner in creating a court-connected mediation pilot program for bankruptcy cases in Arizona involving disputes concerning residential mortgages and foreclosures. FMU then designed a program framework incorporating the best practices from across the country, tailored to local needs and rules.
The Court will identify and select cases based on the Court’s expectation that the parties would benefit from mediation from information presented at contested relief from stay hearings involving the debtor’s principal residence. Cases must meet the following minimum requirements: (a) the property is owner-occupied; (b) the property is the primary residence of the debtor; and (c) the debtor is the borrower on the mortgage loan.
A mediator (neutral third party) will assist both the debtor and creditor in determining whether there is a resolution satisfactory to and in the best interests of all parties in resolving the dispute surrounding the homeowners’ mortgage. Mediators to not represent either party, nor do they provide legal, financial or other advice. Further information is available at www.law.asu.edu/fmu.