What is mediation?
In any family law proceeding in the state of Colorado, prior to a hearing, mediation is almost always recommended by the Court. This helps the parties come together to work out their issues themselves instead of having a Judge decide their fate. A Judge does not know you or your family as you do, and leaving it up to a Court to make decisions regarding your life can feel scary. Think of mediation as an Opportunity, the best way to ensure that you and your family have their needs met in a way that best suits you.
Now, how do I choose the right person to help guide me and my spouse or the child’s other parent through a conversation?
Choosing a mediator is more than looking at a list of qualified individuals and calling anyone who fits your schedule. There are different levels of experience, pricing, and expertise that you should consider. There are many excellent mediators out there and it is difficult to tell where to begin. Some mediators have specialties specifically geared toward family law and conflict resolution of the same. In your family law case, you should look at those individuals. Private mediators tend to have more time for more complicated parenting issues and/or asset and debt division issues, however, this is not always the case. The Office of Dispute Resolution or “ODR” is a state-endorsed roster of mediators that have been heavily vetted and reviewed for compliance. These mediators have a minimum of 2 hours to give your case, however, they may often set aside a larger time block if requested. These mediators are set at a state-imposed rate to help mediation be more affordable for everyone.
What do I do once I have scheduled mediation?
Prior to mediation, one should lay out the issues they are disputing and the items that they agree on with the other party. Both agreements and disagreements are important, in order to establish a middle ground or something that you both can live with. Mediation is NOT meeting in the middle, but it is finding solutions that work for all. Most mediators will request a confidential mediation statement stating the same (issues, agreements, and any other helpful information that may keep things moving smoothly). Once you have outlined the issues and agreements, if there are assets or debts involved, you should get the most updated values of those assets and debts right up until mediation. This way we can ensure that accurate values are being considered in negotiation. It may also be helpful to form offers ahead of time so you know in your head what you will accept and what you may need more time to consider.
Do I have to agree to anything during mediation?
Although the Court requires most parties to participate in mediation. The actual process and negotiations themselves are completely voluntary and confidential. You are not forced into any agreements during mediation and you are completely within your right to ask for additional time to consider any offers or proposals.