Getting divorced is a process that can take several different paths. In some cases, spouses can resolve their differences between themselves without needing someone in the middle. In others, spouses are so at odds that they need a judge to make decisions for them. Then, there are the cases in which divorcing spouses are willing to work together, but they need some help finding the right solution for their particular set of circumstances.
In this third scenario, divorce mediation can be an extremely useful tool. Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows spouses to resolve their differences without going to court. When spouses use divorce mediation, they retain full control over the outcome of their divorce—they get some extra help along the way.
What is Divorce Mediation in Arizona?
Divorce mediation is an amicable process that allows spouses to consider solutions that they would not have otherwise considered on their own. In divorce mediation, each spouse is represented by his or her own attorney, and the spouses work with a neutral third-party mediator who offers recommendations from an outside perspective. Oftentimes, the mediator will be a divorce attorney or family law judge, and, in all cases, the mediator will have training and experience in amicable conflict resolution.
The mediator’s role is that of a facilitator, not a decisionmaker. During divorce mediation, each spouse puts forth his or her position, and then the mediator helps the spouses work toward common ground. Mediators can offer creative solutions with the insights gained from helping to resolve tens or hundreds of divorces. They can help spouses whittle away their differences in circumstances in which their negotiations might otherwise break down.
Just as divorcing spouses can utilize mediation voluntarily in Arizona, they can terminate mediation voluntarily as well. Mediation ends when either (i) one or both spouses decide that the process is unproductive, or (ii) the spouses reach an agreement that allows them to move forward with their divorce.
What are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation offers several benefits under the right circumstances. The easiest way to understand these benefits is by contrasting mediation with the other available options:
- Divorce Mediation vs. Divorce Settlement Negotiations – Compared to informal divorce settlement negotiations, divorce mediation offers more structure and the assistance of a neutral third party. When spouses are unable to come to terms independently, mediation provides a path forward that does not involve going to court.
- Divorce Mediation vs. Divorce Litigation – As compared to divorce litigation, divorce mediation is faster and cheaper, and it allows the spouses to retain control over the terms of their divorce. While mediation is slightly more structured than informal divorce negotiations, it is substantially less structured than the divorce litigation process.
Divorce mediation is not right for all circumstances; and, if you don’t need to meditate, then there is no reason to do so. However, if you and your spouse are amenable to working together but have complex issues to resolve or cannot find common ground on your own, then pursuing mediation could be an efficient and effective way to bring your marriage to a close.
What are the Drawbacks of Divorce Mediation?
There are virtually no drawbacks to divorce mediation. When you try mediation, the worst-case scenario is that the mediator cannot help you and your spouse advance toward a resolution. All other options remain on the table, and you are not committed to mediate if the process isn’t working.
More often than not, however, divorce mediation does work. In most cases, if divorcing spouses can agree to mediate, they can achieve a favorable outcome from mediation. By working with their respective uncontested divorce lawyers and an experienced mediator, divorcing spouses can usually explain their respective positions, identify where their true differences lie and then find a solution that allows them to move forward with an amicable divorce.
When Should Spouses in Arizona Consider Divorce Mediation?
You are getting a divorce, and you are wondering what the best path forward based upon your persona, family, and financial circumstances are. Should you try divorce mediation? Here are three examples of scenarios in which mediation can prove particularly useful:
- You Have Children from Your Marriage – One of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process for many parents is establishing child custody and child support. Whether you and your spouse intend to split parenting time or you want to try co-parenting, using divorce mediation can be a highly effective way to develop a mutually agreeable parenting plan that addresses all pertinent considerations without heated conflicts.
- You are Preparing for a High-Net-Worth Divorce – If you and your spouse have substantial assets, mediation may be a good option for establishing the terms of your high-net-worth divorce. High-net-worth divorces typically involve more complex financial and property-related issues than those in which fewer assets are involved. Going to mediation can help avoid the types of conflicts that tend to lead to litigation.
- You’ve Run Into Roadblocks During the Divorce Process – When going through a divorce, choosing to mediate is not an all-or-nothing proposition. If you and your spouse can informally resolve some issues but not others, you can use mediation to overcome the specific issues that are standing in the way of a full and final resolution.
Ultimately, whether you decide to pursue divorce mediation is a decision that you will need to make based on the unique circumstances of your divorce and the advice of your attorney. If you would like personalized legal advice about whether you should try mediation for your divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Phoenix Divorce Lawyer
Are you considering a divorce, and would you like to know more about the benefits of divorce mediation in Arizona? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer in confidence, please call 480-542-0099 or contact us online today.