Most people getting divorced don’t want to go to court. In this post, we will talk about some options on how to avoid court when getting a divorce in Arizona. Technically, everyone must to “go to court” in Arizona to get a divorce. But it’s really not divorce court people want to avoid, it’s divorce litigation. Divorce litigation is the (often) lengthy, expensive, and stressful legal process of arguing your case in front of a judge. But if both parties are willing, there are many options to avoid “going to court.”
Options to Avoid “Going to Court” and Divorce Litigation
As mentioned above, a divorce must go through the court system. But how the final decisions are made is up to the parties. There are basically only 2 ways to decide the issues, they can reach an agreement or let the judge decide.
Ways to Reach an Agreement
Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to reach an agreement in a divorce:
- Informal Settlement Discussions. A good starting point for many couples is to start the discussion between themselves about the terms of their divorce. This is not ideal for all situations, as it really depends on the willingness to negotiate and settle the outstanding issues.
- Settlement Correspondence: One option is to send proposals back and forth to each other either via letter or email. Be aware that agreements that are in writing and signed by both parties are binding agreements. Email signatures count as signatures.
- Mediation: This is where the two of you work with a professional to reach agreements. The mediator is neutral. The mediator’s goal is to facilitate a productive discussion and see if solutions can be reached. Mediation is usually very effective.
- Collaborative Divorce. This is an alternative process within the family rules that allows the parties, their attorneys, and other professionals to work together to craft solutions for how their divorce should look. Because it tends to be expensive and high-risk (if you can’t reach an agreement, your attorneys must resign, and you must start over, including with discovery and disclosure), it tends to be used primarily for high-asset divorces.
Deadline to Reach an Agreement
Ideally, to avoid Court altogether, the parties must come to an agreement within the first couple of months of the Petition for Dissolution being filed and served. This puts a bit of a time crunch when trying to avoid court. You can get more time to make agreements is you wait to file the Petition for Dissolution. Many people go through the settlement process before they file. But keep in mind, once you file and serve the divorce papers, you must wait 60-days before your divorce can be finalized.
Top 5 Tips to Successfully Avoid Court During Divorce
- Be reasonable.
- Know the issues (including the finances).
- Be willing to negotiate.
- Know what you want.
- Focus on the end game.