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Why Counsel Should be Present at Mediation

By James S. Margulis, Esq.

In Colorado, the majority of domestic matters are first sent to mediation prior to any court orders regarding Child Support or Child Custody. Mediation can serve as a useful tool throughout the stressful and expensive child custody dispute, especially if you are unable to pay for an expensive trial. Mediation is a problem-solving process assisted by a neutral third party known as the mediator. The basic premise of mediation is that the parties involved in a dispute are best able to resolve the dispute. In addition, parties are generally more satisfied with, and have greater ownership in solutions which they have a role in creating. Mediation usually costs approximately $100-$150 per party for a two hour session.

While mediation can be a cost effective way to settle some, if not all, disputes regarding child custody and child support, it is advisable to have counsel present. While a mediator is present, they are not there to protect your interest during the matter but rather to come to a resolution between the two parties. Thus, having counsel present to advise you of your options and protect your interests during mediation is the best solution to ensure you are getting the best results in the mediation process.

It is also helpful to have counsel present even if no agreement is reached so that the next steps in the case can be taken. Further, in some circumstances, negotiations may continue among counsel and the parties after mediation which may yield results that a two hour session in mediation was unable to produce.

If you are interested in mediation, you should make it very clear from the first interview that you want to work with a lawyer who understands and supports mediation. This means a lawyer who accepts that mediation sometimes involves compromise and that what you settle for in mediation can be influenced by, but should not be determined only by, what the lawyer believes a judge or jury might give.

If you are currently dealing with a child custody dispute, whether the case is new or ongoing mediation may be the best option to try to settle those issues with the other parent. However, it is important to remember that while a mediator is present, they are not your attorney; therefore, you should hire counsel to be present to ensure your interests are protected during this process.

Please contact the Domestic Team at Cantafio & Song PLLC to address any of these child custody or child support matters and for all of your family law needs.

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