Are You Ready for Mediation?
Many Colorado jurisdictions require parties with divorce and child custody cases to mediate before putting their disagreements forward for a court to decide.
Mediation is an informal attempt to resolve a dispute in which a neutral mediator attempts to help parties reach agreement. Mediators do not make binding decisions. In family cases, mediators try to help divorcing husbands and wives or mothers and fathers find agreement by suggesting new compromises after listening to each party’s concerns.
I have had numerous cases completely resolve in mediation. However, even tough cases with inflexible positions can benefit from mediation by identifying peripheral issues that can be resolved. Narrowing the issues in this way can save considerable time and money on litigation.
Mediation can be an opportunity to make valuable progress in divorce and family cases, so it makes sense to prepare to make the best use of that opportunity. If time permits, it is usually a good idea to provide the mediator documents relevant to your case in advance. Financial disclosures, draft parenting plans, and an outline of your position can help the mediator approach the session prepared.
It is essential to enter mediation intending to negotiate in good faith. That means parties will each be expected to give a little. It is a good idea to consider where you might be willing to give during mediation, in hopes of reaching an agreement, and where you should not. Thinking this through in advance can help prevent a party from entering into an agreement in mediation because of tiredness or frustration that they may later regret.
Mediation in divorce cases usually involves substantial negotiation over division of assets and income. If one party is being unreasonable and inflexible, mediation will fail. However, if the parties are close on a financial issue, it often helps to calculate the total amount of money at issue, and compare it to the total costs of continued litigation along with the associated risk of losing both litigation costs and not obtaining the desired outcome through the formal litigation process.
Keeping all these factors in mind at the time of mediation can be daunting, especially for people going through a divorce without an attorney. However, almost all of these factors can be planned for in advance, and many of them can be calculated with reasonable accuracy. Some preparation in these areas can make mediation more productive and less stressful, which may help save money in the long run.
About the Author:
Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.