In Arizona, the words in family law statutes have changed. The word “custody” has been replaced with “legal decision-making authority.” This is considered progress, as the word “custody” has negative connotations associated with the detainment of criminals. Metaphorically, this progression represents the direction Arizona lawmakers have in mind when dealing with divorces.
The 50-50 approach is preferred and usual when dealing with divorce cases in Arizona and dividing parental rights and responsibilities. Even with 50-50 judgements, divorces are still heated, ugly battles that leave both parties with longstanding feelings of ill will toward one another. Arizona legislators feel that court battles are unnecessary and hurt the most innocent people in the process, the children.
Fighting that occurs between parents throughout divorce is witnessed by children and diminishes their capacity to process the divorce process, which is an unnatural process to a child who is innocent and loves both parents. Arizona lawmakers intend to create divorce models that promote the best interests of the child, and in this case, the best interest of the child is when the parents stop fighting.
In order to divorce without an ugly court battle, lawmakers propose mediation services, which allow both parents to be a part of the shared decision-making process. It also encourages them to put their children ahead of their own differences. They never enter a courtroom, and the children are able to see their parents working together. It is a healthier interaction, and the children retain the relationships with both of their parents more often in these cases.
If keeping the best interests of the children is not a motivating factor for mediation, then the monetary savings of mediation should be. It is much less expensive to progress through mediation than it is a lengthy court battle. The benefits to mediation significantly outweigh any other options, as it promotes the family ties that are vital to the health of the child.