Family law mediation seeks to reach an agreement on key issues in a manner acceptable to both parties, rather than rely upon a judge to impose a solution.
Mediation between parties will occur with the help of a professional mediator. While a trained mediator is often an attorney, he or she does not represent either party and instead attempts to guide them to a mutually agreeable resolution on key issues. It’s an important distinction because each party cannot count on a mediator to represent their best interests.
Professional advice is critical to securing a resolution that best meets your needs. Even those undergoing mediation should have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in Denver looking out for their best interests.
Family Law Mediation in Denver
Mediation can be entered into as a voluntary process or a judge may require mediation of outstanding issues as a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution. The court recognizes the best dispute resolutions, and the agreements most likely to be followed long-term, are ones that are reached by the parties. However, if no agreement is reached, the issues will proceed to litigation.
Common mediated issues in Family Law court include:
- Property division
- Child custody and parenting plans
- Alimony and child support
Proceedings are private and discussions during mediation cannot be used in court. The goal is to provide an atmosphere where a professional mediator can guide parties to mutually agreeable solutions, rather than force the court to impose solutions to resolve disagreements.
Typically, the mediation process will include:
- Opening statements
- Joint discussions
- Private discussions
Mediation is a confidential and collaborative process. Professional mediators can help facilitate communication, assist parties in assessing their options, and clarify areas of agreement or disagreement. However, mediators do not force a solution; they only attempt to assist parties in resolving their differences.
Preparing for Family Law Mediation in Colorado
When agreements can be reached, the mediator will proceed to putting the terms into a settlement agreement, so it’s important for both parties to be prepared. Once the agreement is signed and accepted by the court, the agreement will become enforceable.
Seek professional advice: An experienced family law attorney in Denver can best help you understand what to expect, and to determine what you should be able to obtain during mediation. Because a mediator does not advocate for either party, it is not uncommon for agreements to be lopsided, particularly when one party has long been more assertive in a relationship. Conversely, a divorce attorney advocating on your behalf will also be able to tell you when your expectations will be difficult to realize, and will be best able to help you set realistic goals for mediation outcome.
- Focus on key issues: What issues need resolving? What issues are most important to you? What issues are most important to the other party? Are there areas you can give and/or areas where you are steadfast?
- Set goals: What is your ideal outcome? What are areas of compromise? What is an acceptable outcome?
- Documentation: Be prepared to prove your case with documentation. Mediation aims to seek a resolution. Be prepared.
- Beware emotions: While it’s easier said than done, leaving your emotions outside the mediation room is the best bet when it comes to successful mediation. That’s why preparing and writing down your goals can be so helpful. Don’t get caught up in the moment, either by being unrelenting on issues that are not of critical importance to you, or by giving in to get the process behind you.
- Ask for help: Don’t hesitate to seek advice from your attorney, financial planner, or other professional, particularly before signing any agreement.
Mediation can be an asset to both parties during settlement of disputes in family law court. Agreements reached by the parties will be much more likely to be followed, and much more likely to be workable resolutions. The court recognizes this and seeks to follow such agreements wherever possible. When no agreement can be reached, a decision on disputed issues will be rendered and enforced by the court.
But that doesn’t mean you have to settle. Having an experienced Denver family law attorney in your corner means you may be better off arguing your case to a judge, particularly in cases where the opposing party shows little or no inclination for fairness or compromise.
Call Littman Family Law and Mediation Services at 303-832-4200 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.