Why Mediate Your Divorce in Arizona (and what the heck is mediation, anyway?)
Mediation is a way of resolving differences outside of court. In Arizona, it provides an alternative way of working out divorce issues with your spouse. In a mediation, you and your spouse sit down with a neutral person to work out your divorce issues. You don’t have to solve all issues to get benefits from mediation. Even if you find a solution to one issue, you save yourselves money, time and emotional turmoil. If you can resolve most issues in mediation, you spare your kids the trauma of being in a hostile, antagonistic environment that can feel like a tug-of-war for their loyalties. Mediation is not always successful, but it’s well worth a try, given all the potential advantages.
Three Top Reasons to Try Mediation in an Arizona Divorce
Mediation Saves You Money
When your marriage gets bad enough that you decide to divorce, you may find that the price for untying the knot is higher than you thought. In most cases, both you and your spouse will each need to hire a divorce attorney to represent you in a contested procedure that can take nine months or more to complete. With average attorneys in Arizona charging from $250 to over $400 per hour, lawyer fees add up fast in a divorce. And if your divorce is high conflict – e.g. if one or both of you view the divorce as a new episode of Star Wars — you may end up owing your attorneys tens of thousands of dollars.
Given the costs of divorce, various alternative ways have been developed – and approved by the Arizona courts — to help to divorce couples negotiate an agreement about how to divide property, debt and parenting time. Arizona Divorce Mediation is one. Family Court conciliation mediators don’t charge you for their services. But even if you have to pay fees to a mediator in a private mediation, the average cost of a mediated divorce in Arizona – including court filing costs — is around $2,000.
You Control the Outcome in Mediation
Mediation is a popular method of working through divorce issues because – unlike a court trial or even arbitration – the divorcing couple stays in control. In a court trial, the judge hears your side and your spouse’s but makes the final, binding decision himself. Even if you don’t like it, even if you find it inequitable and just plain wrong, you are legally bound to follow it unless you take and win an appeal.
In a mediation, the two people involved in the divorce get to write their terms. The mediator is there to help you find solutions you can live with, not to impose an outcome. Compromise is essential in mediation. It’s not likely you and your spouse are going to think alike on all divorce issues, so the more open-minded each of you remains, the better chance you have of resolving your case in mediation. However, each party has the ultimate veto. If either you or your spouse refuses to sign off on a divorce mediation agreement, there is no agreement.
Mediation Is Quicker than Trial and Less Hostile
The length and scope of a mediation depend on you and your spouse and whether you go into the process with a good-faith willingness to compromise and a desire for the process to work. A successful mediation can take one day or several days, but it is certain to be considerably shorter than a divorce trial. The brevity of the process makes it automatically less stressful. It’s also less stressful because it isn’t an inherently hostile procedure.
In a mediation, you work with your spouse to find solutions to your divorce issues, rather than battling it out with him. You each have your own agenda, of course, but, unlike a trial, there are no winners or losers. This alters the energy between you in a way that can make post-divorce parenting issues easier to resolve.
Mediation Is Confidential
What happens in a mediation, stays in a mediation. If your mediation is successful, the resulting agreement will be filed with the court for approval and then become part of the court record. However, regardless of whether the mediation is successful or unsuccessful, all of the discussions that happened in the mediation are private and confidential, and won’t become part of the public record. This encourages candor and compromise.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.