There are few things more stressful than going through a divorce, especially if you have children. You went into a marriage with the best of intentions and then, for whatever reason, your life and love soured. You don’t have to stay in a bad marriage, which is why the laws here in Arizona have been designed to facilitate spouses who want a divorce, while also protecting the rights and interests of the children.
However, while some things are statutorily mandated like child support, other issues need to be resolved. This includes things like custody and visitation of minor children, the division of marital property, and whether spousal maintenance (alimony) is appropriate. To the extent that these issues are not settled they will end up before a family law court judge. This means that the judge will decide on these key issues. This can be a long and costly process. Fortunately, you can have your family law attorney file for legal mediation to resolve your divorce instead. Here are seven reasons why you should consider using mediation instead of going before a judge.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from many divorcing spouses is that they feel like they have lost control of their families. This is understandable because now you have a judge and lawyers in your life, telling you what you can and cannot do with respect to your children and property. Filing for mediation gives you a level of control back. A mediator is not a judge but is an impartial neutral who works with you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys to try to craft a mutually agreeable settlement. This is different from an arbitrator who makes rulings and acts like a judge. A mediator will simply present each side’s arguments and work with the spouses separately and together to work toward a settlement.
Divorce cases in Arizona can take over a year. You are subject to the calendar for the judge assigned to your case and will have to wait through pretrial and procedural hearings before you get to a divorce trial. With mediation, you can actually resolve your divorce issues in as little as one afternoon.
3. Less expensive
Divorces can sometimes be among the costliest legal disputes here in Arizona. Each time you go to court you will have to pay your lawyer’s fees. In addition, all of the motions, evidence review, trial preparation, and meetings will cost you money as well. With mediation, you will end up spending less on legal fees. This is true even if you need to have several meetings with your lawyer to prepare and have to go through several mediation sessions.
4. Mutual settlements
Judges do not know what you really want out of a divorce. They don’t know which spouse likes the artwork and which one would rather get the family dog. Instead, they often make rulings that leave neither spouse happy. In mediation, you work toward a settlement that you and your former spouse can live with. Also, you are not bound to agree with anything the mediator suggests.
5. Your goals
It is very difficult to achieve your goals in any litigation. The ultimate decision is up to a judge who may not see things your way. In divorce mediation, you can prioritize your goals so that they are more likely to be achieved. This can include the division of marital property, custody of the children, and even visitation on major holidays. We’ve seen parties settle a mediation where one spouse gets Christmas Eve and the other Christmas Day since that is their family tradition. It is much harder to achieve this goal in a courtroom.
6. Amicable relations
Let’s face it, if you have kids, you and your former spouse are going to be in each other’s lives for the future. Your kids are going to want Mom and Dad there at graduations, weddings, and birthdays. If you take your spouse to trial, it is very likely to sour whatever relationship you still have. With mediation, you can avoid the bitterness of a protracted divorce case. You may not be best friends with your ex, but you will still be able to get along well enough to make your children comfortable and happy.
Studies have shown that divorces settled through mediation have a higher rate of compliance. The parties pay support on time. Visitation schedules are adhered to more often. Our own experience is that people who settle their divorces through mediation are happier with the results.
Call Us Today If You Are Considering a Divorce
Divorces are never easy, and you need a family law attorney who has the compassion and understanding to help you through this difficult time. At Cohen Family Law, PLLC, we will go over your options, let you know if mediation is appropriate, and advocate on your behalf so that you can get through your divorce and achieve your goals in the best and most cost-effective way possible.