Q. What is divorce mediation?
A. A cooperative problem solving process using impartial mediators to assist a divorcing couple reach an agreement on the issues dividing them. These issues usually include division of assets, division of liabilities, spousal support, and if the couple has children, parenting and child support.
Q. How long does divorce mediation take?
A. The couple meets with the mediators for a one to two hour session usually on a bi-weekly basis. The divorce is often completed within three months.
Q. Why choose divorce mediation?
A. Control stays in the hands of the couple, not attorneys or the Courts.
- Reduces likelihood of post-divorce conflict and repeated court hearings because couple has developed the agreement cooperatively.
- Helps children because parents cooperate on parenting issues, not allowing child to be caught in middle.
- Couple learns to communicate better and work together to avoid future problems with children.
- Less expensive.
- Takes less time.
Q. How does divorce mediation work?
A. The process begins with an orientation session during which the mediators explain Divorce Mediation in detail, help the couple identify the issues, and establish a schedule of sessions.
Next, the couple gathers the necessary financial information and is then ready to begin to review and resolve the issues important to them. With the help of the mediators the couple develops and chooses options which are right for them. Couples may consult with tax, real estate, and business appraisal experts for additional information.
After the couple has reached agreement on the issues, the mediators provide them with a written agreement detailing their decisions. Each spouse takes the written agreement to an attorney for review. The attorneys’ comments may be incorporated into the written agreement. When the agreement is completely acceptable to the couple, the case is scheduled for court approval of the divorce.
Q. Is a mediated agreement as legally binding as a separation agreement written by attorneys?
A. Yes, and both these documents need to be approved by the court to be enforced.
Q. Do I have to go to court?
A. At least one of the parties must attend the final hearing at court. We recommend that both parties attend so that they can achieve some emotional closure.
Q. How long does it take to get a divorce?
A. It takes approximately 60 days from the time the divorce papers are served until the parties can go to court for the final hearing. It can take longer, depending on how long it takes the couple to reach an agreement.
Q. Is Arizona a community property state?
A. Yes. This means that in Arizona each spouse is presumed to be entitled to half the property of the community.
Q. How are the length and amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) determined?
A. The maintenance order shall be in an amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.
Q. Will I be taken advantage of if I choose Divorce Mediation rather than adversarial divorce with my attorney confronting my spouse’s attorney?
A. No. Mediators are conscious of power imbalances and will not allow one spouse to take advantage of the other spouse. Also, full disclosure of all assets and debts must be made by both parties.
Q. How is child support calculated?
A. The current Arizona Child Support Guidelines follow the Income Shares Model. This model was developed by the Child Support Guidelines Project of the National Center for State Courts. The total child support amount approximates the amount that would have been spent on the child(ren) if the parents and child(ren) were living together. Each parent contributes his/her proportionate share of the total child support amount.