Divorce Mediation or Court?

Divorce is a complicated process that is very time consuming and expensive. While some issues are not able to be resolved on your own, an attempt at mediation before court can save you thousands of dollars. If you and your spouse can sort out the issues without going to court, this is advisable.

Statistically, an uncontested divorce costs each spouse between $1,500-$3,000. Uncontested divorce means that the parties are able to agree to terms of the divorce without any mediation or court. If the divorce is contested (both parties don’t agree on terms/decisions), then this complicates the process. A divorce that is resolved through mediation will on average cost each spouse between $2,000-$6,000.

A contested divorce that goes to court to be resolved will cost each party between $8,000-$30,000. The path you take depends on how well the two parties are able negotiate an agreement without an outside party’s assistance. If you know that you will not be able to solve your issues without some assistance, then your options are mediation and court. This does not necessarily mean that you can’t do both.

Many couples try mediation as an initial attempt to reach an agreement, but if that is unsuccessful then court will be necessary.

Option #1: Divorce Mediation in Arizona

Mediation is the cheapest and fastest way to solve a contested divorce. Mediation is when the two parties meet with an objective third-party that is a trained mediator. The mediator will guide a discussion regarding all decisions/agreements that need to be made and help them hopefully reach an official agreement.

Family law mediators typically have years of experience in the world of family law, either as attorneys, paralegals, judges, case workers, etc. This inside knowledge of the area allows them to understand the laws and rulings that will guide the proceedings. While many mediators have worked in the legal field, they are not allowed to give any legal advice during the mediation. They are strictly there to facilitate a discussion about the divorce.

Due to the fact that the mediator cannot give any legal advice, both parties typically have their attorneys present for the mediation. Some people believe that because it is just a mediation that it is less formal or official than court, but this is not accurate.

You need to come prepared to the mediation. An experienced attorney can help you establish a plan for the mediation with your topics that are non-negotiable and the topics that you are willing to compromise on.

Having a talented advocate on your side will be very helpful. You do not want to show up to mediation without an attorney and your future ex-spouse has a talented, aggressive attorney that is able to negotiate and build favor for their client only. This is a battle, you need to be prepared.

There are numerous reasons that mediation is the best choice for your situation including:

  • Maintaining control of the outcome
  • Privacy
  • Better for the children

Maintaining Control of the outcome: In mediation you are able to maintain direct control over the outcome of your divorce. Both sides must agree to the terms in mediation in order for the agreement to be approved. If you do not agree to the terms the other side suggests, you have the right and power to say no. If you take your divorce to court, the court will have the final decision on custody, alimony, child support, etc. This power is not something to be taken lightly. You have to realize that what the court decides is enforceable by law, even if you do not agree with their ruling. This influences people to try to sort out their issues outside of court in order to maintain that control over their outcome.

Privacy: Another major benefit of mediation is being able to maintain some sense of privacy in your divorce. In mediation, the information is not made public. The two parties, their attorneys, and a mediator are typically the only ones present for the mediation. This smaller, more intimate setting allows for more frank and open conversations and discussions which will be beneficial in trying to reach an agreement. In court everything about the case is happening in front of the public. Anyone who attends the court sessions is able to hear the questioning and testimonies of each side and witness, which may be something you want to avoid.

Better for the Children: Mediation is better for the children in the sense that they are not dragged through the court system and don’t have to watch their parents fight openly in court about their future. Divorce cases involving custody can turn ugly quickly, most parents do not want their children exposed to their mistakes and anger. Mediation cuts out the public display of the fight and doesn’t require the children to be present.

Option #2: Arizona Divorce in Court

While it is advisable to avoid taking your divorce to court in order to save time and money, sometimes it is unavoidable. Some marriages are too far gone and the anger is too fresh to have a reasonable discussion and come to a decision without court.

Court is also a good option for people who are victims of domestic abuse or people who know the court will rule in their favor (the other party committed a crime or has a history that would clearly skew the case).

Taking a divorce to court will definitely require you to have an attorney if you want a fighting chance. Family court is complex and has regulations and deadlines that if are not followed correctly can cause some serious issues for you and your case.

At JacksonWhite, our experienced family law team has the knowledge and understanding of the law to help you through this terrible situation you are facing. Having someone who understands your situation and will be your guide an advocate can be priceless.


Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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