By Jennifer A. Workman, Esq.
Many counties in Colorado have received an influx of family law cases that seem to be becoming increasingly drawn out - lasting months and even years. Douglas and Arapahoe counties in the Denver Metro Area seem to be the most difficult counties in which get your family law case heard in a timely manner.
Accordingly, under local rules, the court must hold the initial status conference no later than 42 days after the filing of the petition. However, this rule does not apply to temporary orders hearings or permanent orders hearings, which could potentially be set out months or even years after the initial petition is filed. In Douglas County, the current setting dates for firm permanent orders hearing are in 2015 - an entire year after the initial petition has been filed. Now, while you may be able to get in on an earlier date, the likelihood of that is becoming increasingly rare.
Due to the issues with the dockets in certain Colorado counties, there has been a push to get matters settled prior to the hearing date. Other options such as mediations, arbitrations, and private judges have become prevalent options for individuals.
Mediation in most Colorado counties, especially Arapahoe and Douglas, are not only an option, but are required by the courts. Mediation is a proper venue for parties who are reasonable and realize the time, effort and resources that would be involved if a domestic matter goes to trial may not be worth it. Still, the key with mediation is that the parties must be reasonable and willing to compromise.
Arbitration and private judges are proceedings in which a neutral third party hears the matter and makes the decision and the parties agree to comply with the third party's decision. These are meant to be a cost-efficient, fair and decisive way of settling disputes through a private venue.
Each of these private proceedings is potentially cost-efficient methods to prevent waiting for months or even years for a result from the public court system. If you are currently dealing with a matter in a Colorado, you may be interested in moving your case to a less traditional venue to expedite the result. Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis for all of your family law needs.