If you are contemplating divorce or are in the middle of divorce proceedings, you may find that the fear of conflict and uncertainty overwhelms you. Going to court and having a long, protracted divorce battle is not what you want for your family. Despite having differences with your spouse, you really don’t want to fight about everything. You also know that conflict is detrimental to your children.
There are a number of different ways to approach a divorce. If you know that you want to avoid contention and bitterness, you will be relieved to know that there are alternatives to litigation, including mediation. Below are some of the benefits of divorce mediation.
· Mediation can help to minimize conflict. A mediator is a trained neutral, whose goal is to get parties to reach resolution and find areas of agreement to facilitate settlement. A skilled mediator can navigate both parties’ positions in order to address every concern. Both sides can feel heard, but then work to resolve differences and reach an agreement.
· Mediation allows the parties to remain in control of the outcome. You get to choose your mediator. You do not get to choose your judicial officer. When the decision is left to a judge, the parties lose control of the process and the outcome. The presentation of a case in court also allows for less creativity and flexibility in the ultimate resolution. In addition, because they participate in reaching a solution, parties are much more likely to abide by a settlement agreement reached in mediation than an order made by the court.
· Mediation saves time and money. When you are able to avoid litigation, you save time and money. While you pay a mediator, the amount of time spent preparing and attending mediation is significantly less than court motions, hearings and contested trials. An added advantage is that you generally get into mediation before you would get a court hearing on the calendar. And because parties are more likely to be satisfied with a mediated agreement, you are much less likely to end up in court down the road.
· Most divorce mediators have experience in family law. Mediators may be an attorney, a mental health provider or work with divorcing families in another professional capacity. A mediator who is familiar with divorce can help parties facilitate the process of gathering information and addressing all the important issues necessary for resolution. For example, if developing a parenting plan for an infant or toddler is a concern, a mental health professional can be of great assistance in creating an appropriate parenting plan. If financial issues are the primary concern, a mediator who is a financial professional may be a more appropriate choice. In any case, seek recommendations to select the most qualified mediation professional for your unique circumstances.
These are just a few reasons why mediation can be such a powerful option for divorcing couples. We also want to remind readers that Colorado courts will generally require people to attempt to use alternatives to litigation before they even have a hearing, and mediation is usually required in divorce proceedings.
While mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution process, is encouraged, the mediator you choose can make a big difference in addressing your specific concerns and ultimately reaching a resolution. An experienced family law attorney should be familiar with mediators in your area and can make the appropriate recommendation for your circumstances.
If you have any questions about mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods, then you would be wise to consult an attorney. A legal perspective and guidance can correct any inaccurate assumptions you may have about the divorce process and help you avoid costly missteps during this difficult time.