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Mediation in Arizona

Divorce doesn’t always have to be contentious, nor does it have to end up in court. If there are issues that need to be resolved in your divorce, there are alternative ways to do so which are quicker and less expensive than settling it in court if you are both willing to work at it and reach a compromise.

One of these is mediation. Mediation in general is a voluntary alternative, but divorce cases in Arizona have to go through mandatory mediation before it goes before a judge. The rationale behind this is mediation will lighten the load on the court system.

Mediation is often confused with arbitration, which is not a trial but similar to it in that it is adversarial where the arbitrator acts like a judge, listening to all the evidence and then making a decision which is final and binding to both parties. Mediation is more conciliatory, where the mediator merely facilitates the negotiations that will hopefully result in a mutually agreeable resolution but is not there to force it or to make a decision. In other words, a couple involved in mediation continues to control the outcome of the dispute. It is recommended that divorce lawyers are present to protect the interests of both parties.

Mediation is generally not regulated by state law, although in Arizona the parties are bound by confidentiality; what transpires in mediation stays in mediation. In this sense, anyone can serve as a mediator and does not even need to have any experience or knowledge to do it professionally. It is crucial that a mediator from a professional organization is selected to handle mediation for any hope at arriving at a satisfactory resolution.

In some instances, a lawyer may take on the role of mediator by virtue of their legal knowledge, but it isn’t necessary.

The duration of mediation will depend on how much each spouse is willing to compromise; the more flexible they are, the shorter the length of time it will take. Mediators are usually paid by the hour, but in mandatory mediation, the mediators are volunteers and the parties will not have to pay them anything.

The Issue Same-Sex Divorce in Texas

The issue of same-sex marriages continues to be a prickly subject in Texas, with advocates hotly contesting the state’s right to bar two people of the same sex to become legally joined when other states have already confirmed that to ban same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. And now this has become even more of a conundrum with some same-sex married couples insisting on a Texas divorce.

In the Lone Star state, same-sex couples who legalized their marriage in other states but reside in Texas are not allowed to obtain a Texas divorce because in the first place, Texas does not recognize the validity of the marriage. It is mostly a case of the chicken and the egg; how can the state grant a divorce decree to a couple who was not married in the eyes of the state in the first place? The only way that a same-sex couple can get “divorced” is by having the marriage declared void. While this means that they are free to marry again, a voided marriage does not carry the same benefits and privileges of divorce under Texas law, which includes but not limited to property division and Social Security benefits.

There are signs that same-sex marriage may soon be allowed in Texas, and this is good news for Texans hoping to tie the knot in their home state. However, until such time that it is formally declared legal in Texas, married same-sex couples in Lewisville or other counties will just have to put up with relevant laws as they stand. In any case, an experienced Lewisville divorce lawyer will have the necessary knowledge to make the best of a bad situation.

If you are considering divorce in Texas, it is important that you have the advice of a competent divorce lawyer conversant with Texas laws. Even if you anticipate no problems with the dissolution process, it is still advisable that you have all your “I”s dotted and “T”s crossed to avoid legal problems later on.