Tips for a Simpler, Smarter Divorce
No one gets married with the intent to divorce, but the best-laid plans often change—and most individuals going through a divorce want to take the simplest, most painless route to get there. The benefits of mediation and substantial and it can be an excellent tool you can use to simplify your divorce process and avoid some of the more frustrating, expensive, and time-consuming aspects of a typical divorce.
You also might want to consider reading our Divorce Mediation Checklist
Using Mediation Will Save You Money
The number one question our divorce attorneys are asked by prospective clients is this: “How much is this going to cost?” Divorce can, indeed, be a very costly endeavor and it’s completely understandable that our clients are concerned about their finances—it’s important to us, too. We want our clients to complete the divorce process feeling prepared for a better future, which includes being financially prepared.
Going to mediation can be a huge money-saver in terms of attorneys’ fees. Nearly all attorneys charge hourly rates and retainer fees, so the less time your attorney needs to spend on your matter, the less expensive it will be for you. Of course, hiring experienced legal counsel is very important, but there are ways to ensure you’re receiving both quality legal advice and conserving your finances.
While going through divorce mediation, you have options when it comes to hiring attorneys: you and your spouse can each hire individual attorneys AND a private mediator, or you can simply hire a mediator together. If both parties are relatively amicable, simply hiring a mediator to facilitate those negotiations may be a great cost-saving option for you.
The mediator, while remaining neutral, will serve the purpose of facilitating productive negotiations, drafting your divorce paperwork and final agreements, and assisting you with filing those with the court. While most mediators will charge hourly rates and require a retainer fee, the cost of one mediator is significantly lower than that of two attorneys AND one mediator.
If you anticipate extensive, complicated negotiations will take place during your mediation, hiring a divorce attorney to go to mediation with you can still be a money-saving move. A major difference between divorce mediation and handling your divorce in court is that through the mediation process, the likelihood of avoiding trial sharply increases. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex each need representation to assist you with coming to mutually agreed-upon terms via mediation, the time and money you are likely to save by avoiding a long, drawn-out trial are substantial.
Choose Divorce Mediation and Avoid Going to Court
Another reason mediation can be an excellent choice is that you can get divorced without ever having to go to court. Does the idea of standing in front of a judge or needing to go to trial completely overwhelm you? If so, mediation may just be the perfect option for you.
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, nearly all courts went virtual. Most court hearings, including trials, have taken place via video conference or telephone. Maricopa County went completely virtual, save for specific, extraneous circumstances that required the rare, in-person attendance. Here at Owens & Perkins, we were able to equip our offices with the proper tools and equipment for our locally-residing clients to attend virtual hearings in our office.
As we go into 2022 many courts are beginning to re-open their doors for in-person hearings. Private mediations have always had the ability to take place virtually or in a private attorney’s office, and individuals going through divorce mediation will still be afforded that option.
Mediation as a Tool for a Tailor-Made Divorce Decree
Using Mediation for your divorce, as opposed to going to court, will allow you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse more control over what is included in your divorce decree.
Your mediator will act as a neutral third party to assist you both in reaching mutual agreements regarding matters such as the division of assets and debts, spousal maintenance or alimony, child support, parenting time, legal-decision-making, etc. Mediation also affords you the flexibility of making agreements that a judge would not have the authority to make determinations on. Some of these extraneous issues may include agreements regarding the college expenses for children over the age of 18, a deviation from child support guidelines to increase or decrease child support according to the parties’ needs or circumstances, or the establishment of a life insurance policy as security for spousal maintenance payments upon the paying party’s death.
Mediation can also be the ideal avenue for handling issues pertaining to shared pets. Arizona State Law does not recognize pets as anything other than personal property, such as an end table or a watch. If the issue of custody of a shared pet is taken to trial, a judge is legally only able to award one party 100% custody of the animal. Through mediation, however, parties are able to agree upon a “parenting time” schedule or particular custody arrangement for their pets.
Once agreements have been made, the mediator will then draft the parties’ decree and delineate the exact provisions by which they would like to address each issue at hand. Decrees drawn up as a result of mediation are often far more specific and inclusive of the parties’ individual and mutual needs.
Without the necessity of judicial involvement, you can include in your decree highly-detailed agreements crafted to meet any needs you and your spouse may have. If you choose the route of going to court, you may run the risk of your decree being vague or confusing, the decree not addressing particular issues pertinent to your and your spouse’s needs, a judge making rulings that are not mutually agreeable, or the decree lacking instruction regarding issues that you want to be included but that the court may not have authority or jurisdiction to decide.
Is Mediation Right for You?
While Mediation may not be the right option for every divorcing couple, it is an excellent tool for those who are likely to come to agreements with the help of a mediator. It can save time, money, and stress, as well as provide a greater deal of clarity than may be afforded to you should you choose to go to Trial instead.
Mediation in Arizona
If you’d like to explore mediation for your divorce matter, our team is here to help. Our attorneys at Owens & Perkins are highly experienced as both divorce lawyers and mediators. We are just a phone call away– schedule your FREE 30-minute legal consultation today by clicking here or by calling our office at 480.994.8824.