THE AURIT CENTER

Divorce Mediation in Arizona

This article will explain the stages of mediation, discuss when mediation can be used, and answer some common questions about the Arizona divorce mediation process.

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Divorce mediation has become the most popular divorce process in Arizona thanks to its financial benefits and advantages for children. Through the mediation process, spouses work together to find solutions that satisfy both parties so they can transition peacefully into the next chapter of their lives.

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a solution-oriented, collaborative process where a third-party mediator helps spouses resolve disputes and decide on child custody arrangements, parenting plans, visitation schedules, and how they’ll co-parent effectively after the divorce.

By promoting open discussions, practical solutions, and mutual respect, the mediator helps spouses reach mutually beneficial agreements so they can move forward with their lives and maintain a positive post-divorce relationship.

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“Instead of making decisions on your behalf, your mediator acts as a bridge between you and your spouse to keep the conversation on track and moving forward.”

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Specifically, the divorce mediator guides the process by:

  • creating a supportive, informal atmosphere;
  • encouraging open, honest communication;
  • empowering spouses to build healthy co-parenting relationships;
  • recommending creative solutions that satisfy both spouses;
  • explaining state laws for dividing property, spousal maintenance, and child custody matters; and
  • helping spouses find the best solutions for their families.

Common mediation myths

Over the years, certain myths about divorce mediation have been completely debunked. Let’s look at a few.

Myth #1: “Mediation is only for spouses who have already agreed on everything.”

Sometimes, spouses come to mediation having already agreed on major issues. However, many spouses start mediation on totally opposite sides of these matters, such as how to share parenting time with kids or divide property.

Whether the spouses agree on everything or on nothing at all, mediation aims to help them reach the best possible agreements and make healthy, positive choices for their families.

Myth #2: “The goal of a professional divorce mediator is to restore your relationship with your spouse.”

Your mediator’s goal is not to save your marriage. Instead, your mediator raises every divorce issue, explains the law, shares options, and helps you both bring all financial and custody disputes to a peaceful resolution.

Myth #3: “All divorce mediators are the same. You can pick just about anyone.”

In mediation, you will discuss issues that are personal and sensitive. Choosing a mediator that you trust is your most important consideration.

In mediation, you will discuss issues that are personal and sensitive. Choosing a mediator that you trust is your most important consideration.

Find a mediator who primarily practices mediation. Preferably, choose a mediator who offers a flat fee for the entire mediation process.

What are the advantages of divorce mediation in Arizona?

Reaching divorce agreements in mediation is advantageous for both spouses in terms of cost, speed of the process, confidentiality, stress level, and the end result. Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

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Mediation is more affordable

There’s one thing that spouses going their separate ways will agree upon: the less costly the divorce, the better.

In traditional divorce litigation, family law attorneys require large retainers and charge by the hour. Litigation costs $15,000 to $20,000 per spouse on average and can easily rise to over $100,000. A private mediator can offer a far more affordable option, where the average cost is 80–90% less than going through the courts. Mediation typically costs $2,500 to $3,500 per spouse.

Instead of charging by the hour, The Aurit Center offers a more affordable flat-fee pricing system. These fees are set after the spouses meet with an expert mediator who asks questions about their circumstances and needs.

Mediation is less stressful

While some disagreement is normal, heightened emotions and opposing viewpoints can make it hard for spouses to reach an amicable agreement on their own.

Mediation is a less stressful process that promotes openness and agreeable terms. Experienced divorce mediators use their extensive knowledge and training in conflict resolution to ensure that cooler heads prevail when there is disagreement.

Mediation is faster

Traditional divorce litigation can only progress as quickly as the overburdened and slow-moving family court systems allow. By contrast, in mediation, it’s the spouses who set the pace.

Like many other parts of life, mediation has adapted to the digital space. Spouses can attend online mediation meetings and complete their entire divorce process from any location they choose.

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"The convenience of online mediation lets spouses complete their entire divorce process more efficiently and affordably — without ever setting foot in a courtroom."

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Mediation is confidential

Unlike litigation, where each spouse's divorce attorney makes personal attacks and makes private matters a part of the public record, everything discussed during mediation meetings is kept confidential.

In mediation, spouses’ and their children’s personal details and private lives remain private.

Mediation is better for children

Divorce mediation prioritizes your children’s best interests. By promoting open communication and mutual respect, mediation sets the groundwork for a strong co-parenting relationship that prioritizes your kids’ futures. Research shows that conflict causes long-term harm to children—not the divorce itself. Children’s health and well-being are protected when parents keep conflict low through mediation.

What issues can be resolved during mediation?

Divorce mediation can help spouses resolve practically any issue or disagreement.

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In mediation, spouses work with their mediator to reach agreements related to:

  • Child custody. In physical and legal custody matters, your mediator’s top priority is the well-being of the children. With that in mind, mediators help spouses decide on the best path forward for their family. In Arizona, custody is referred to as legal decision-making authority. Parents can agree to joint legal decision-making authority or sole legal decision-making authority.
  • Child support. In mediation, spouses can decide on child support arrangements to ensure that whichever parent has more time with the kids receives adequate financial support. Your mediator will guide you through the Arizona Child Support Calculator and explain that you have a choice about whether to follow the law or create their own agreement. This helps spouses provide a stable, consistent environment for their children and minimize the divorce’s impact on their lives.

To learn more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Support in Arizona.

  • Parenting time. Parents will work with their mediator to create a parenting time schedule that works best for everyone. Parenting time may be shared equally. Parents can choose various schedules depending on their work schedules and the children’s ages. When equal time isn’t possible or preferred, mediators share creative schedule options that maximize time with parents while focusing on the children's best interests.
  • Property division. Mediation helps spouses decide how they’ll divide marital assets like bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, business interests, and vehicles.

Likewise, the division of marital debts (such as auto loans, student loans, and mortgages)  are also decided through mediation.

  • Alimony. In cases where one spouse earns little or no monthly income, they can receive financial support from the other spouse. This is called alimony, or spousal maintenance in Arizona, and it can also be decided during the mediation process.

When can divorce mediation be used in Arizona?

Spouses can begin divorce mediation at any time they choose: before, during, or after their divorce process.

  • Before the divorce: It is best to start mediation before you file for divorce. You will reach all agreements and then your mediator will file for an uncontested divorce. No one will “get served” with divorce papers. This leads to a faster and simpler divorce process with far less conflict.
  • During the divorce proceedings: Spouses can opt for mediation at any point in their court process. Oftentimes, spouses experience several weeks or months of litigation and decide to start mediation. This way they are able to conclude the case quickly rather than continue litigation for what could be years. Sometimes, a judge will order spouses to enter mediation.
  • After the divorce: After a divorce is final, spouses might want to change certain details in their settlement agreement. Mediation can smooth things out in those instances so that people avoid going to court again and again.

What are the stages of mediation?

To establish both spouses’ concerns, goals, and desired outcomes, the mediation process begins with an initial consultation and questionnaire.

During divorce mediation meetings, spouses work with a professional mediator to create personalized, custom agreements and make positive, healthy choices for their children. At The Aurit Center, meetings are two hours long so spouses have time between meetings to ensure their agreements are right for them.

Along the way, the mediator will respectfully raise topics for discussion, explain the law, and guide and support the conversation between the spouses. The mediator’s goal is to provide a positive, non-confrontational atmosphere and keep the conversation on track.

Based on agreements reached during the mediation meetings, the mediator will draft a divorce decree, known as a Consent Decree containing the terms of their agreement. Both spouses review and sign the Consent Decree. Then an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer will file it with the court, along with their divorce petition, and the court finalizes the divorce. Spouses in divorce mediation never go to court.

How much does divorce mediation cost in Arizona?

The cost of divorce mediation depends on the mediator.  While some mediators charge by the hour for their services, many offer flat-fee pricing options.

Here at The Aurit Center, we understand that we’re meeting our clients during a very challenging time in their lives. We want to reduce their stress. We have an all-inclusive, flat-rate pricing structure that lets you focus on making important decisions, not how many hours you’ll be charged for. We are also the only family law firm in Arizona that offers 0% interest payment plans in 3, 6, or 12-month installments.

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Is my divorce official after mediation is completed?

Mediation agreements must be approved by the court to be official. Your divorce is considered final only when the judge signs off on the divorce decree.

When is mediation not appropriate?

In the vast majority of cases mediation is appropriate and will be successful. However, in certain contexts, mediation may not be appropriate, such as when there has been recent and severe abuse.

Read our 10 Truths About Divorce Mediation to find out more.

What is the difference between divorce mediation and collaborative divorce?

Divorce mediation is a prime example of collaborative divorce.

Instead of butting heads in court, mediation provides a collaborative, supportive atmosphere where spouses can work together to make the best decisions for their future.

Mediation: An excellent solution

The mediation process helps spouses find creative, personalized solutions to important matters. With the help of an expert mediator, spouses can agree on things like marital property division, child custody arrangements, parenting plans, and visitation schedules.

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"Mediation prioritizes the well-being of children and supports spouses as they prepare for a new stage in their families’ lives."

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To learn more about divorce mediation and The Aurit Center’s simple, caring, and strategic process, schedule your free one-hour consultation today.

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