Not necessarily. Although the traditional court-based method of divorce can be all those things, there is another alternative that could increase the amicability of your divorce, reduce its overall cost and maintain your privacy. That alternative is divorce mediation.
The traditional answer for divorcing couples was a trial. In a divorce trial, the judge hears each side’s arguments about each of the main questions of divorce, which are property division, parenting, child support and alimony. Once each side has presented its arguments, the judge chooses a winner on each issue.
Unfortunately, this process can serve to increase the hostility of the parties because they are put in a “win-lose” mentality. A trial doesn’t allow the parties to focus on an overall arrangement that they can both support.
The trial process is also expensive because it requires a lot of effort by the attorneys. For each issue, the attorney needs to meet with the client, work to prepare a convincing argument, and present that argument in court. Most of the work in a traditional divorce is done by attorneys.
The traditional trial process also results in a public record. This can mean that your arguments about parental decision-making and child support, for example, would be visible to anyone who pulls the record of your trial.
There’s got to be a better way, right? Divorce mediation may be that way for you.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is a way to settle your issues out of court so that you save time and money, your private business remains private, and you can foster an environment of cooperation.
In a mediation, the parties agree to meet with an experienced, neutral mediator. The mediator doesn’t have the authority to propose a resolution to your issues. Instead, the mediator’s job is to help you and your divorcing spouse communicate effectively so you can work out your own resolution.
Unlike the piecemeal approach judges are required to take, the resolution you achieve in mediation can be holistic. You can work together to find a solution to parenting, support and property division that seems fair to both of you.
In the end, you write up a decree or consent decree, which is presented to the family court as a divorce settlement agreement. As long as your agreement comports with Arizona family law, the judge will generally approve it and issue a divorce decree.
The ability to come to your own resolution is one of the primary benefits of divorce mediation. To most people, it makes more sense to negotiate a solution than to allow one to be dictated by a judge.
Are there situations where divorce mediation isn’t a good idea?
There are some situations where divorce mediation may not work as well. For example, if you are the victim of domestic violence, if your spouse suffers from addiction, or you believe your spouse can’t be trusted to tell the truth, even in court, there may be barriers in the way of effective divorce mediation. Talk to your divorce attorney about whether divorce mediation is right for you.
Divorce can be a difficult, emotional and trying event or anyone. Unfortunately, it can be full of acrimony. Divorce mediation can often reduce the acrimony and make divorce easier on everyone.