Everything You Need to Know about Online Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Divorce is a complex legal process and a sensitive family matter. Depending on the circumstances, a divorce can involve complex asset and debt division issues, financial issues, spousal maintenance issues, and/or difficult issues regarding children, such as: parenting time, legal decision-making, and child support.
Even ‘simple’ divorces require careful document preparation, legal filings, monitoring of timelines, and many other issues to ensure a legally-valid process. When conflict unnecessarily escalates, even ‘simple’ divorces can spiral into long-term litigation cases. We are here to help you avoid unnecessary conflict and have the healthiest divorce possible.
With our Online Divorce Mediation services, you can complete your entire divorce process, 100% online. In mediation, you are partnering with a professional Arizona divorce mediators who are committed to your best interests. This can make your divorce significantly easier on you and your loved ones. We will explain everything you need to know about divorce to better prepare you for the journey ahead and we are available to help you every step of the way.
Simple 4-Step Online Divorce Process
#1 — Schedule and Attend Your Complimentary Online Consultation
We will help you schedule an online complimentary consultation by phone or email, whichever you prefer. During your consultation, you and your spouse will meet your potential mediator, who will explain the mediation process, its advantages and will answer your questions.
#2 — We File for Divorce
We prepare and file your Petition and Acceptance of Service while you are in mediation. No one gets served. No conflict ensues. Mediation keeps conflict and stress low so that you are able to complete your divorce in a timely manner, completing the entire divorce process in about 2-4 months.
#3 — Reach All Agreements in Online Mediation Meetings
You can complete your entire process from the comfort of your home. Online meetings are convenient and allow you and your spouse to attend from different locations, which can lower conflict and result in better agreements. Your mediator will guide respectful, future-focused conversations that will allow you and your spouse to create fair, mutually-beneficial agreements that meet both of your needs.
#4 — Consent Decree Signing and Filing
Once you have reached all necessary agreements, we will prepare the required legal documents including your Consent Decree, Property Settlement Agreement and if required, your Parenting Plan. After you both sign the documents we submit them to court and your divorce will be made final.
Online Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona
Divorce mediation is the best way to ensure a low-conflict, out of court, dissolution of marriage. If one spouse refuses mediation, or circumstances do not allow spouses the freedom to participate in the mediation process, they will need to participate in litigation to move forward to complete their divorce.
Litigation can be complex, very expensive and in many cases last more than a year. Conflict between spouses fuels time and expense. Partnering with a trusted local family law attorney is essential to help you through your divorce case. A respected Arizona licensed divorce attorney will recommend attempting online mediation before resorting to contested litigation.
Online Legal Separation or Divorce
For some couples, a legal separation is preferable until they can negotiate each and every relevant issue of divorce. In Arizona, the online legal separation process is very similar to the online divorce process. The couple must mutually agree to legal separation (or show the marriage is irretrievably broken), file a Petition for Legal Separation With/Without Children with the Superior Court of Arizona, and determine each party’s rights to property and legal-decision making.
The couple will then sign a Separation Agreement—a legally-binding contract which resolves property, debt, spousal support and child-related issues. Most couples consult with an attorney or mediator to complete this document, especially when there are children or complex financial issues involved. The contract is precise and detailed, outlining all rights and responsibilities.
A legal separation does not divorce a couple in Arizona. The couple will still have the same legal obligations as they did when married and living together.
Legal separation is most often pursued for the purpose of remaining on the same health insurance, for religious reasons, or to provide a temporary means of separating while making final decisions about whether or not to divorce.
Legal separation through online mediation is based upon mutually-beneficial agreements and works toward a Win/Win result. In contrast to legal separation through litigation which is based upon an adversarial approach and works toward a Win/Lose result.
Whether you choose Legal Separation or Divorce, you can complete your entire process through online mediation, without ever going to court.
Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Arizona
Every state has its own laws regarding divorce, or ‘dissolution of marriage’, as it is called by the Arizona courts. In many states, the only grounds necessary for dissolution of marriage are irreconcilable differences or an irretrievably-broken relationship.
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, which means one party does not need to find the other at fault for the dissolution of marriage to take place. All that is required is for one spouse to desire the dissolution of the marriage. When one spouse is ready to get a divorce, there is nothing the other can do to prevent it.
The only choice to be made at that point is which approach to take to complete your divorce process—the cooperative and convenient approach: Online Divorce Mediation, or the combative approach: litigation in court.
The Rare Covenant Marriage
Arizona is one of only three states, along with Arkansas and Louisiana, that offer a type of marriage that is legally distinct from traditional marriage, called a covenant marriage.
In a covenant marriage, the couple goes through premarital counseling and signs a special declaration of their intent to enter into a covenant marriage when applying for a marriage license. Covenant marriage limits the legal options for dissolution of marriage. We can assist you with dissolution of your covenant marriage through Online Divorce Mediation services.
For those in a covenant marriage in Arizona, the courts will only grant dissolution of marriage under one of these grounds:
- The spouse not filing for dissolution, the Respondent, committed adultery.
- The Respondent committed a serious crime and the courts have sentenced him or her to death or imprisonment.
- The Respondent has been absent from the home where the married couple lived for at least one year and refuses to return.
- The Respondent has committed domestic violence or emotional abuse or has physically or sexually abused the other spouse, child, or relative of either spouse who lives in the couple’s home.
- The couple has been living apart without getting back together for at least two consecutive years.
- The court has already granted the couple a legal separation, and the couple has been living apart without getting back together for at least one year from the date of separation.
- The Respondent regularly abuses alcohol or drugs.
- Both spouses agree to a divorce.
The Aurit Center can answer any questions you have about covenant marriage. Contact us to find out how we can help you have the healthiest divorce possible.
Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The Divorce Petition will set the tone for the entire divorce. Many spouses make the mistake of not fully understanding the consequences of how to write and file this initial divorce filing.
In Online Divorce Mediation, the Petition causes no conflict. It contains no demands for things. The other spouse does not “get served” with divorce papers. There is no need for a formal Response, which only serves to cause more fighting.
In the litigated case, the Petition tends to be a confrontational document that lists demands, which are many times extreme and adversarial. Oftentimes, the language is accusatory and sometimes downright ugly. The other spouse is served with the Petition and required in 20 days to file a Response, which must accept or object to each initial demand.
The person who files the Petition is referred to as the Petitioner and their spouse, the Respondent. Our Online Divorce Mediation services include the creation and filing of all of your legal documents. We also do all of the filing and you never go to court.
The residency requirement to file for divorce in Arizona, states that one party must be domiciled in the state, or stationed here as a member of the armed forces, for
at least 90 days prior to filing of the petition.
Documents filed with the Petition include: Preliminary Injunction, Acceptance and Waiver of Service, Notice Regarding Creditor’s Rights, Notice Regarding Health Insurance, Summons, and an Affidavit Regarding Minor Children, etc. Our online divorce mediation services include assessment of your mediation needs, preparation of all necessary legal documentation, tracking of all deadlines and all filings with the court.
Serving Divorce Papers
In an online divorce at The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation, no one gets “served”with divorce papers. The entire process is completed without the Petitioner or Respondent ever going to court.
In the litigated case, the Petitioner must serve the Respondent with divorce papers. The Petitioner can mail them via first-class post with a return receipt requested, or hire a process-server or sheriff to deliver them on their behalf and request their spouse waive service. Only in rare circumstances, will the court allow service via publication. The Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Rule 41, outlines the rules for service of process for family law cases being litigated.
In the litigated case, the Respondent has 20 days after the service of process, to file a Response to the Petition, however this deadline is extended to 30 days after service if the Respondent lives outside of Arizona. A response to the Petition, is a Respondent’s acknowledgement of receipt of the documents, regarding dissolution of marriage, and states his or her agreement or disagreement with the Petition, which boils down to a list of demands. In a Response to the Petition, the Respondent will state his or her position on the Petitioner’s proposals, including those related to asset division, legal decision-making, and spousal support.
After the deadline, the Respondent loses his or her right to argue against any items from the Petition. Failure to file a Response may result in a default divorce, meaning the courts assume that the Respondent agrees to all of the Petitioner’s terms, and will consequently dissolve the marriage. The Respondent may ask the court to remove the default and can contest the divorce only if he or she can prove to the court there was a justifiable reason to have missed the deadline in the first place. A Respondent needs sound legal evidence for the Arizona courts to set aside a dissolution granted by default.
For anyone who begins the litigation process, and later wishes to end the adversarial, conflict-inducing process, you can enter into mediation at any point in the divorce process. Many clients come to mediation having already been served. Mediation provides the opportunity to have a cooperative divorce, at any point in your divorce process. Online Divorce Mediation is convenient and keeps conflict low.
In an online divorce within the mediation process, spouses reach Temporary Agreements on any temporary spousal maintenance that will be paid during the divorce process, as well as, temporary agreements on living arrangements, who will pay which bills, and temporary agreements related to children. Spouses reach these agreements together and almost always abide by them without any issues. These agreements create financial stability for each spouse and their children.
In the litigated case, a judge will issue Temporary Orders on each of these issues. Temporary orders can take months to be put into place. However, Emergency Temporary Orders can be heard by a judge within 24 hours—typically only in cases involving abuse, drugs, alcohol, or mental health issues. Either party can file a request for a Temporary Custody Order.
The courts will decide what is in the children’s best interests and/or will cause the least amount of emotional upheaval. In many cases, Temporary Orders can become permanent if both parties agree to keep matters the same after divorce finalization. A judge can order the Temporary Orders to become permanent after the conclusion of a trial.
The Consented Divorce Process
When spouses complete their divorce online, they completely avoid a trial at the Arizona Superior Court. When spouses have agreed upon all divorce terms, the courts can stamp and finalize the spouses’ signed Consent Decree.
Depending on the spouses, the property, and whether or not they have children, they may need to submit additional documentation, such as a parenting plan or a property settlement agreement. If there are children involved, both parents must attend online Parent Education classes before the courts will grant dissolution via a Consent Decree.
Legal Annulment in Arizona
A legal annulment is a rare alternative to dissolution of marriage in Arizona. An annulment is only available if some factor makes the marriage invalid. In Arizona, voidable marriages include, but are not limited to, marriages:
- Without a valid marriage license
- Occurring while another marriage was still in effect
- Involving an underage spouse
- That are fraudulent
- Involving threats or coercion
- With a blood relationship between spouses
- Involving intoxication or lack of mental or physical capacity
- Involving a spouse who cannot consummate the marriage
- Involving one spouse having concealed a criminal past or communicable disease
If a marriage is annulled, the spouses will be as they were before the marriage. The annulment means technically no marriage existed and there are no marital assets to be divided. Typically, each party leaves with the assets he or she had before the marriage.
If the judge does not grant the annulment, the couple may file for dissolution of marriage. It’s important to note a legal annulment is not the same as a religious annulment, which is not a civil action. Religious annulments are a declaration by the Catholic Church court saying what the church once recognized as a marriage is now void.
Online Divorce Mediation
Online Divorce Mediation lets Arizona couples complete the dissolution of their marriage in a fair and mutually-beneficial manner. In mediation, spouses can represent themselves or hire a lawyer for representation. The two parties (and their lawyers, if applicable) meet with a neutral third-party mediator, who leads a discussion of all divorce issues and helps the couple to find common ground and reach agreements on each and every issue. There are many advantages to mediating rather than litigating (going to a trial) including:
- Confidentiality; nothing goes on public record
- Far less expense than litigation
- Keeps conflict as low as possible
- Better for children’s health and wellbeing
- Results in settlement of all divorce issues
- Creates resolutions based on your beliefs about what is fair
- Spouses remain in control of the process (not a judge)
- Improved communication between you and your spouse
- Your option to have a lawyer represent you
Carefully weigh the advantages of Online Divorce Mediation over a traditional trial process, before deciding how you want to complete your divorce process.
Is Online Divorce Mediation for Us?
Online Divorce Mediation works best when spouses can sit down together and discuss the terms of a divorce amicably. However, under the guidance of a skilled mediator, even couples experiencing high levels of conflict can communicate in new ways. They are able to make informed decisions and can successfully complete mediation. It is normal for divorcing spouses to have some conflict and to disagree on many issues. When spouses can at least be in the same room with one another, or in the same Zoom meeting together, mediation can help them reach mutually-beneficial agreements.
If you and your spouse have one or more of the following goals, Online Divorce Mediation may be right for you:
- To protect finances from being drained by high legal fees
- To maintain or develop a healthy, low-conflict co-parenting relationship
- To avoid the emotional toll of going to trial in court
- To keep the details of your divorce as private as possible
- To stay in control of your divorce terms and not have a judge decide your future for you
Thoughtfully consider the cooperative approach of Online Divorce Mediation before embarking on a costly, lengthy, and public legal process through litigation. If you and your spouse are willing to compromise and collaborate in mediation, you can complete your entire divorce process successfully, without ever going to court.
Divorce Mediation Process in Arizona
Once you and your spouse agree Online Divorce Mediation is the ideal solution for the dissolution of your marriage, contact The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation. A team member will discuss the process with you and answer any questions you may have.
If you choose mediation, you can also hire a legal advisor or lawyer to give you legal advice, to help you make important decisions, and serve as another resource through your divorce process. It’s up to you whether or not your lawyer accompanies you to mediation meetings.
In your mediation meetings, you will have the opportunity to describe what is important to you and why, and to discuss pertinent details. You may have multiple meetings in order to reach agreements on every issue. Your mediator will help you both to develop creative solutions and compromises regarding property division and spousal support, known as Spousal Maintenance in Arizona. If you have children, you will also address parenting time, legal decision-making, and child support.
Once you complete mediation, your mediator will prepare your legal documentation. Your unique agreements will be incorporated into your Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which is your finalized divorce judgment documentation.
When choosing a mediator, look for mediators who will take care of the entire process, from beginning to end. Research Arizona’s top mediators who provide Online Divorce Mediation Services. The Aurit Center offers online services across the state providing all Arizonans the opportunity to have the healthiest divorce possible.