Mediation is an iincreasingly popular choice for divorcing couples who want to end their marriage without the conflict, expense and time that setting their issues in court can involve.
A litigated divorce, where each spouse’s attorney represents them in court, can easily take a year or two and cost tens of thousands of dollars. A mediated divorce generally is completed in under six months and costs considerably less. There’s only minimal interaction with the court, and that typically involves only a few simple filings.
There are still some widely believed misconceptions about mediation that keep couples from even considering it. Contrary to what many people think, for example, spouses don’t have to be on particularly friendly terms to use mediation. However, they need to be able to work together to draft agreements regarding property division, child custody and support under the guidance of a neutral mediator.
Spouses can (and probably should) have their own family law attorney experienced with the mediation process to review their agreements and provide guidance as needed to protect their interests. One or both spouses can also consult with other professionals, including accountants, financial planners, child therapists and others if they choose.
Mediation can help couples, particularly those who will always be in each other’s lives as co-parents, move forward in an amicable, respectful relationship. Too often, divorce only worsens an already bad relationship, which isn’t helpful for the children in the middle.
There are some situations in which mediation shouldn’t be considered — if a relationship has been physically, verbally or emotionally abusive, for example. If one spouse has considerable leverage over the other, either in finances or power or strictly by the strength of their personality, the other spouse is unlikely to fare well in a mediated divorce. If either spouse has substance abuse issues, they shouldn’t be crafting divorce documents.
If you are considering a mediated divorce, it’s wise to consult an Arizona family law attorney who represents spouses in these divorces. They can help you determine whether it’s right for you and review other options to help you amicably settle your divorce and move forward with your new life.