If you are reading this article, you are probably considering a divorce in Arizona or helping a loved one who is faced with one. My purpose in writing articles is to let people know they have a choice in how they end their
marriage. Many people assume that the only way to get divorced is to engage in an adversarial process. That is not true. While you can use the traditional litigation process, that is not the only option.
Traditional litigation involves one party filing a Petition for Dissolution and serving the other party with it. The other party will then file a Response. The parties then try to obtain information from each other using a process called “discovery.” In addition, parties have a duty to disclose relevant information. If the parties need temporary orders (orders until the trial takes place), there is a hearing. If a party is not cooperating with discovery or is violating the law or Court orders, there may be additional hearings. Experts may need to be hired for evaluations (If there is a custody dispute, there could be a custody evaluation by a psychologist. If there is a dispute over the worth of assets, there could be appraisals or forensic accounting). If the parties have attorneys, there is likely to be numerous letters going back and forth that often contain angry allegations. Eventually, if there is no agreement, the parties go to trial, and a Judge does his/her best to make good decisions for the two parties regarding their children, property, debts and monetary needs. As you can imagine, this is a process that can be expensive, time consuming, risky and very stressful.
Mediation is another option. In mediation, the parties jointly select a mediator – a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution. The mediator can help prepare all of the documents for the parties. The mediator will help the parties discuss all of the issues in a relaxed setting, and the mediator will help the parties reach agreements on all issues. The parties may choose to seek legal, accounting or other advice during the mediation process. The mediator can provide referral sources. Successful mediations – and most are successful – end with the submission of a Consent Decree. Neither party has to physically go to Court. The process is quick, confidential, less expensive, less stressful and much less risky.
Alona M. Gottfried is a divorce mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.