The end of a marriage does not always mean a fight in divorce court. Even if you and your ex cannot agree on all of the issues of your split, mediation may be possible—and, for many, it’s a better, more efficient option than divorce.
Understanding what divorce mediation is, how it works, and its potential benefits can help you decide if it may be a viable option for you. To help you with that decision, here are some helpful divorce mediation FAQs.
Divorce mediation is a dispute resolution process that happens outside the courtroom. It involves a specially trained third party, the mediator, who does not “represent” either side in the divorce. Instead, the mediator serves as a neutral facilitator who establishes a safe, unbiased environment while helping divorcing parties:
Both parties in the divorce can have a hand in selecting the mediator, and there is no requirement to file divorce papers before pursuing mediation.
You and your ex can make the choice to pursue mediation, or the family court may order you both to participate in mediation before it will step into the case. While divorce mediation can focus on issues like the division of marital assets and/or support payments, it often also tackles the sensitive issues that arise in a custody battle. Here is a general outline of how the divorce mediation process in Colorado typically works.
In this preliminary meeting, which does not have to occur in person, you will get a chance to share the details of your case with the mediator. This is the opportunity for the mediator to get up to speed with the point(s) of dispute in the case and your objectives. It’s also your opportunity to learn about the ground rules, ask specific questions, and get more details about what to expect as you proceed with divorce mediation.
This preliminary mediation meeting can involve both you and your ex in the same room, or the mediator can meet separately with both of you. In the case of separate meetings, the other party in the divorce will have to reach out to the mediator to schedule an appointment; the mediator will not make contact, as mediation is generally a voluntary process (unless it has been specifically ordered by the court).
You, your ex, and your mediator will schedule the first mediation session at a time that is convenient for all parties. During this session:
For some parties, one mediation session may be all it takes to resolve the issues and come to an agreement. For others, it may take multiple sessions to work out the conflicts. If more than one session is needed, follow-up sessions will usually be scheduled a couple of weeks apart to give both sides time to reflect on the proceedings and what they want to do going forward.
When mediation is successful in helping parties resolve any conflicts in their divorce, the agreed-upon resolution will need to be officially documented in writing in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Generally, the mediator will help craft the MOU document, and both parties will get the opportunity to review it for precision and accuracy before signing it.
Wrapping up divorce mediation, this final session will involve compiling the MOU and all other paperwork that will need to be filed with the court. At this time, the mediator can answer questions about what to expect going forward.
As effective as mediation can be, it does not always result in resolutions for divorce cases. Sometimes, one or both parties may be unwilling to budge on certain issues. When it’s clear that compromise and resolutions through mediation are not possible, divorcing parties will need to go to court. At this point, a family court judge will intervene, hearing the arguments, reviewing the evidence, and making a final decision on the remaining point(s) of dispute.
Once those matters have been resolved, the divorce can be finalized via an official divorce decree.
Divorce mediation can offer several benefits, including:
Here, it’s also crucial to point out that divorcing parties do not need to be perfectly friendly with each other for mediation to be a viable option. As long as they are willing to listen, hear each other out, and try to work towards a solution, divorce mediation has the potential to offer several major benefits.
As effective and promising as divorce mediation can be, it’s not for everyone. In some circumstances, mediation may come with some significant risks. Knowing what those are upfront can help you maintain realistic expectations. It can also help you understand when divorce mediation may have hit a dead end and it’s time to go to court.
Some of the main risks associated with divorce mediation can include the following:
Given these and other risks of divorce mediation, it’s always best to consult an experienced Fort Collins divorce attorney to discuss your best options, in light of your situation, needs, and goals. Your lawyer can advise you on the best options while helping you pursue them going forward.
In general, divorce mediation tends to be a bad option when issues, like (but not limited to,) the following are involved:
Every case is different, so there is no one answer to this question. In fact, divorce mediation can be wrapped up fairly quickly or be drawn out over months, depending on several factors, like (but not limited to):
Yes. No matter how simple or amicable you think an upcoming divorce may be, things can go sideways as you dig into the issues of your case. If you talk to an attorney upfront, you can get essential advice and information that helps you avoid common mistakes, protect your rights, and take the right steps to try to achieve your objectives. A lawyer can also help you with all of the administrative work necessary to initiate, build, and advance your case while representing you in all proceedings going forward. That can be pivotal to achieving better outcomes from your Colorado divorce case.
To talk to an experienced, 5-star divorce lawyer in Fort Collins, CO, call (970) 488-1887 for a free, 100% confidential divorce consultation.
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