When going through a divorce, you want the process to be as smooth and painless as possible. You want to quickly achieve a fair outcome, and you want to move on with your post-divorce life. So, how do you keep your divorce out of court?
These days, only a small percentage of divorces end up in court. There are a variety of ways that divorcing spouses can find a mutually agreeable path forward—even when they are deeply divided with respect to their wants and needs. But, while most divorces don’t go to court, some do. Usually, this is because one or both spouses are unwilling to consider reasonable options for settling the terms of their divorce.
5 Common Reasons for Divorce Litigation in Arizona
Given that litigating a divorce is both more costly and more time-consuming than reaching an agreement out of court, why do some divorces go to trial? Here are five of the most common reasons for divorce litigation in Arizona:
1. Both Spouses Want the Same Marital Assets
In Arizona, most couples are required to split their marital assets 50-50. But, even if both spouses are entitled to half, contentious disputes can still arise with regard to who gets what.
If both spouses want the same high-value asset (i.e., the family home, a luxury vehicle, or an art collection), deciding how to deal with this asset can prove challenging. The same is true with respect to assets that hold sentimental value for both spouses. While many couples will be able to find a mutually agreeable path forward, some will end up in divorce litigation.
2. The Spouses Disagree Over Which Assets are Marital and Separate
Disputes can also arise with respect to which assets are on the table in a couple’s divorce. While the couple’s “marital” assets are subject to division, the spouses’ respective “separate” assets are not. If divorcing spouses cannot agree which assets they need to divide, this can lead to litigation in some cases as well.
3. One Spouse Wants More Alimony Than the Other Is Willing to Pay
Divorce litigation can also arise out of disputes related to alimony. Divorcing spouses have a significant amount of flexibility when it comes to establishing alimony during the divorce process; and, while this flexibility provides lots of options for settlement, it can also lead to spouses being very far apart when it comes to what they think is fair.
4. One Spouse Accuses the Other of Hiding Assets or Income Sources
If one spouse accuses the other of hiding assets or income sources (or if both spouses accuse each other of hiding assets or income), this can lead to litigation before the parties are able to address the substantive issues involved in their divorce. While they may still eventually be able to settle, starting the process with a contentious dispute can increase the likelihood of additional issues ending up in court.
5. Divorcing Parents Disagree About Their Children’s “Best Interests”
Custody-related disputes can lead to divorce litigation as well. While Arizona law requires all divorcing parents to focus on their children’s “best interests,” divorcing parents can have very different opinions about what is best for their children.
5 Ways Spouses in Arizona Can Avoid Divorce Litigation
With these common reasons for divorce litigation in mind, we can look at ways that divorcing spouses can prevent these types of issues from leading to an impasse. Here are five examples of strategies that will prove effective for avoiding divorce litigation in most cases:
1. Pursuing a Collaborative Divorce
Pursuing a collaborative divorce adds structure to the process and sets expectations focused on keeping the spouses’ divorce out of court. At the outset of a collaborative divorce, the spouses enter into a written agreement which states that they won’t go to court—and, if they do, they will be required to hire a new attorney. This commitment usually works to prevent litigation, and the collaborative divorce process provides access to a variety of additional tools that also help to facilitate an amicable resolution.
2. Using Mediation to Overcome Impasses
When divorcing spouses reach an impasse, mediation offers an amicable and cost-effective alternative to litigation. In mediation, divorcing spouses work with a neutral third party (the mediator) who helps them consider options that they haven’t considered previously.
3. Ensuring Both Spouses Have Reasonable Expectations
In many cases, divorce litigation results from one or both spouses having unreasonable expectations. By ensuring that both spouses understand what they can reasonably expect from the divorce process, it will often be possible to facilitate good-faith negotiations that produce a mutually agreeable divorce settlement agreement.
4. Not Letting Disagreements Become Emotionally Charged
Emotional decision-making is a common factor that leads to divorce litigation as well. While getting divorced is an emotional process, both spouses need to ensure that they are making informed and rational decisions with their long-term best interests in mind. Divorcing spouses should anticipate that they will encounter disagreements during the process, and they should work with their attorneys to develop a plan for resolving these disagreements out of court.
5. Focusing on the Final Outcome
Finally, one of the best ways to keep a divorce out of court is to make sure that both spouses stay focused on the final outcome. While they may have disagreements along the way, they share the same ultimate goal of bringing their marriage to an end. By keeping this perspective, divorcing spouses can keep their emotions in check, and they can take a methodical approach to achieving a reasonable, fair, and mutually agreeable result.
Request a Free Consultation at Weingart Family Law in Tempe, AZ
If you have questions or concerns about getting divorced in Arizona, we are here to help, and we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced divorce attorney at Weingart Family Law in confidence, please call 480-530-5551 or request an appointment online today.