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Preparing for Divorce Mediation http://bit.ly/2OaMECh
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Preparing for Divorce Mediation

When preparing for divorce mediation, if both parties agree to mediate, you have already won when it comes to your divorce. This is especially true if you have children. While you and your spouse may disagree on many things and may be facing one of the most challenging times in your lives, you both have made the proactive choice to avoid the unnecessary devastation of going to court.

The following are a few tips about how to prepare for divorce mediation. These will assist you in to accomplishing your goals of keeping conflict low, reducing stress, saving a great deal of money on legal fees, maintaining your privacy, and protecting your children from the harm caused by a divorce war. Not to mention, never setting foot in a courtroom.

1. Find a Qualified Divorce Mediator

The most important consideration in choosing a family mediator is that you trust him or her to guide you through the process. The issues you cover in mediation will be personal and sensitive. There may be high emotions coupled with complicated financial issues. If you have children, there will be deeper issues regarding time sharing, decision making and communication. Your mediator should be someone you feel comfortable with through your experience reaching agreements.

Trusting your mediator also means having confidence in that person’s ability as a professional. Training and certification in dispute resolution more likely demonstrates that your mediator has the knowledge and skill to help you mediate, and also demonstrates the intention of your mediator to focus on this area. To that end, it is very important to choose a mediator that has completed the requisite mediation training. The issues and considerations in divorce mediation are different than another other mediation and very different than divorce litigation. A lawyer or retired judge who mediates “sometimes” without having obtained actual mediation training or certification will likely provide you less experience and effectiveness.

Research mediators online. Find out if they have completed the forty (40) hour mediation training - at a minimum. Learn if they charge a flat-fee, or bill hourly like litigation attorneys. Most importantly, meet them in person to see if it is a good fit and ask them about their mediation and arbitration experience.

Organize Your Financial Information

Your mediator should help you gather information that will be brought with you to your mediation meetings. This “voluntary disclosure” process is as simple as identifying your assets, debts, and income information, and bringing in statements to verify the information.

Experienced mediators will provide you with a simple, comprehensive form with categories for you to fill in, and documents to bring with you. You will each fill in your bank account information, retirement accounts, real estate, vehicles, stocks, timeshares and any other assets you may have. You’ll also identify your credit cards, loans, and other debts. Finally, you’ll verify your income.

Compare this to litigation, where you both endure a “formal legal discovery” process. The process can escalate conflict, drag on for long periods of time, and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Think About Your Interests, Not Your Positions

Making “demands” and fighting over positions is something that your attorneys can do for you in court — and it can (at least seem) to last forever. In the end, you will both wind up losing when you battle through your divorce. In mediation, you’ll focus on what you want and need and why you want and need those things. You don’t have to agree with the other person about their wants and needs. Understanding your own interests and hearing your spouse’s interests is a game changer in ultimately reaching agreements. Many times, you realize that on some issues, you actually have similar interests. When that happens, your mediator can help you come up with creative agreements that satisfy you both.

Unlike the traditional litigated divorce process that is decided in court by a judge, mediation lets you and your former spouse maintain control of your separate futures — and maintain control over your children’s future and each of your relationship with them. By approaching mediation with a willingness (though for many it can be quite difficult) to work together to find resolutions on child-related issues that work for everyone, you solve problems and create an opportunity to be healthier co-parents.

Undertake Self-Care

You have permission to take care of yourself while preparing for mediation and during the mediation process. In fact, it will help you reach better agreements in mediation. You may be nervous and anxious — unsure about so many things. After your first meeting with the mediator, you will begin to feel a bit relieved.

You can do this, but you need to try to reduce some stress and find some peace throughout the process. After a mediation meeting, treat yourself to something that brings you some joy or peace. Take a run, go to your favorite restaurant, get a massage, do something fun with your kids, or a best friend. Balance out the challenging times with moments that you can enjoy.
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Is your marriage headed for divorce? http://bit.ly/2oRd3XA
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CHILD CUSTODY: MY CHILDREN WANT TO LIVE WITH ME. ARE THEY OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE? http://bit.ly/2MkBREw
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CHILD CUSTODY: MY CHILDREN WANT TO LIVE WITH ME. ARE THEY OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE?

This is a very common child custody question. Somewhere along the line, it became somewhat of an urban myth that children get to decide where they want to live once they reach a certain age. Many people express their belief that this age is somewhere around 12, 13 or 14 years of age. In Arizona, this is simply not true.

Child custody is never granted solely based on what a child wants. In determining an initial legal decision making and parenting time (custody) order or a modification of an existing order, Arizona Revised Statutes Section 25-403 lists 11 different factors a judge MUST consider in determining what is in the minor child’s best interest. Arizona Revised Statutes Section 25-403(A)(4), provides that the judge must consider the wishes of the child if the child is of suitable age and maturity. So, what does this actually mean? What is a “suitable age?” The answer varies. Some judges my recognize a set age at which they consider a child old enough to have input as to where they would like to live and why. Some judges may feel that most ages are not suitable to give a child’s wishes much weight, as they feel that children do not get to always call the shots. For example, if your 16 year old said they do not want to go to school, would you let them decide what’s best for them – education or dropping out? Finally, some judges may first listen to facts about the child to determine the child’s maturity relative to their age in determining if their wishes should be considered. If a judge determines that a child is of suitable age and maturity, the child will likely be interviewed by a qualified individual employed independently or by the Court (not the judge). The judge will then decide the appropriate weight the child’s wishes will be given when it determines what is in the best interests of the minor child. Please remember, if the child’s wishes are given little to no consideration, or if they are given substantial weight, you cannot ignore the remaining 10 factors the judge must consider under the law. For good or for bad, do not hang your hat on just this one.

To discuss your options and strategy in child custody litigation, contact the attorneys at LASITER & JACKSON, PLLC. The attorneys are highly experienced in assessing the likelihood of success in child custody cases based on the facts, the law and knowledge of the court system and its players.
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Joint Legal Decision Making: Can the Court Break a Tie? http://bit.ly/2Ab7njD
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Joint Legal Decision Making: Can the Court Break a Tie?


Joint Legal Decision-Making means that neither parent’s position on medical, education and religious decisions trumps the other parent. So, in the event of a disagreement (public v. private school), which parent wins?


Previously, Arizona Courts would entertain, and often decide, the issue in the event the parents could not agree. So, if one parent wanted the child to take prescribed medication and the other parent wanted to use only natural remedies, the Court would hear the issue and issue a decision. Such law and practice are no more.


Recently, Arizona Courts have made it clear that the court’s statutorily prescribed role is not to make decisions in place of parents, but to decide which fit parent or parents shall make such decisions. Therefore, if the parties are awarded joint legal decision making and cannot agree on a major issue, the Court will award sole legal decision making to one parent over the other as to the disagreed upon issue(s). The Court will decide based on what it deems to be in the best interest of the child in assigning legal decision-making authority.


If you have decision-making issues with the other parent, contact the attorneys at LASITER & JACKSON, PLLC, for advice about your options as well as the likelihood of success in your case.
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Keep this in mind when helping your kids cope with divorce http://bit.ly/2JO7FMY
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The Use and Effectiveness of Postnuptial Agreements http://bit.ly/2NZjgMg
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I MISSED THE BOAT! CAN A POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT SAVE ME?


Even though some people would like to define who gets what and who pays what in the event of a divorce, they are often reluctant to enter prenuptial agreements in anticipation of their wedding day. The reasons are many. Some are afraid to ask their partner in case of an adverse reaction and conflict prior to marriage. Some do not believe they will ever see the end to their soon to be marriage. Some do not think they have enough assets and debts at the time of the marriage to even worry about how to divide same.

Fast forward 5 years. Wife now owes her own business. The parties have had a chance to voice their opinions of who should keep the profits of Wife’s business or be responsible for the debts associated with the business. This is only one example of where a postnuptial agreement could be helpful. Postnuptial agreements can be drafted after the parties’ marriage to establish what should be deemed sole and separate property and debt in the event of a divorce. Postnuptial agreements can also contemplate issues of payment or non-payment of spousal maintenance. Many of the same issues that are addressed in prenuptial agreements can be addressed in the drafting of a postnuptial agreement. So, long story short, you did not miss the boat!

The attorneys at LASITER & JACKSON, PLLC are experienced in both consulting about the effectiveness of entering a postnuptial agreement and in the drafting of that agreement. Contact us to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your goals and the best way to achieve them!
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