There are two well-known approaches to divorce in Arizona: traditional litigation and mediation.
A traditional or “contested” divorce process may be appropriate in situations when spouses have disagreements about their children, their property division or child support and spousal maintenance that they cannot resolve by negotiating between themselves or their attorneys. These types of cases may require the intervention of a judge. Contested or litigated divorces in Arizona can take a significant amount of time to resolve and can often be quite expensive. In addition, the decisions are left up to a stranger who has very limited information about issues that are of such importance to the spouses.
In other cases, divorcing couples try a different approach. If they are able to reach agreements related to their children, property and support ahead of time, they may be able to proceed with an uncontested divorce process. Reaching agreements on major matters in advance of filing ensures that these couples won’t have to surrender the outcome of these matters to a judge’s discretion. Mediation is often part of the process of pursuing an uncontested divorce in Arizona.
Mediation gives divorcing spouses more control
A litigated divorce can be a very disempowering experience, as couples essentially hand control over all major divorce matters to a family law judge. A judge decides who keeps what property, who pays which debts and who spends time with the children during and after a divorce. Couples who work with a neutral third-party mediator, either prior to initiating the divorce action or after the process is well underway, take back control over the process. With the mediator’s assistance, they work together to agree on all of the major issues their family faces.
Mediation is a private process
Divorce often occurs because couples have grown apart, but it may also be the result of some kind of perceived or actual marital misconduct that causes a breakdown in trust. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, couples may be reluctant to have their private affairs exposed in a public forum. They have the freedom to explore challenging topics in mediation with privacy because mediation is a confidential process. Only the agreement that spouses sign will end up included in court records. In addition, the confidentiality of the process means that if the couples do end up in litigation at some point in the future, neither of them can use their negotiations in mediation against each other. This encourages open, creative communication throughout the mediation process.
For couples aspiring to an uncontested divorce that does not require a judge’s opinion on major matters, divorce mediation could be the best option available or it can serve as part of traditional process that utilizes a variety of settlement approaches. Ultimately, considering alternative ways of resolving marital disputes may benefit anyone concerned about the expense and exposure of private information often associated with protracted, litigated divorces.
Learn More About Mediation
While divorce can be a difficult life transition, Donaldson Stewart, P.C., strives to make the divorce process as streamlined as possible. To schedule your free consultation, please contact us online or call our Chandler, Arizona, law firm at 480-792-9770.