Mediation is required in almost every county in Colorado prior to attending a final hearing on your divorce.
During mediation, divorcing spouses work together with their lawyers to come to a divorce agreement in a peaceable manner with the assistance of a mediator. The goal of this neutral third party is to promote conflict resolution through cooperation. Mediators cannot make decisions for the spouses, but they can help them to negotiate through open, civil communication. The mediation process is entirely confidential.
Often times, the mediator is a retired judge and can be very helpful in providing a judicial perspective, allowing the parties to understand what potential rulings could occur in their case if they do not settle. There is considerable risk in going to trial and a retired Judge can clarify said risks as part of the mediation process. It is critical to perform a thorough research with regard to your potential mediator to ensure that they are the right person for your case dynamics. As an example, one mediator may have a better background and reputation as it pertains to financial issues, while another may have a strong counseling/psychology background and be better suited to children issues.
The timing of the mediation is also critical.
In Colorado, each side is required to exchange 16.2 Financial Disclosures within 42 days of service of the Petition for Dissolution. 16.2 Financial Disclosures, include, but are not limited to, a Sworn Financial Statement, tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account statements and any real estate documents. It is critical that this process is completed prior to mediation. Due diligence must be completed with regard to all financial issues prior to mediation or settlement will not be ripe. You cannot settle maintenance, child support or property issues unless you have a clear and complete picture of each party’s income and all relevant financial circumstances.
Further, if there are children issues, it may be necessary for a Child Family Investigator or a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator to complete their report and recommendations prior to the mediation. You cannot settle the children issues until you have a full opportunity to review the Expert’s Report.
Thus, it is important that all of the issues have been thoroughly vetted out prior to mediation so that you can you have all of the necessary information to reach a through, complete settlement.
Thus, the most appropriate time to schedule is mediation is after these due diligence processes have been completed, but at least a couple of weeks prior to trial. One of the primary benefits of mediation is to settle before you incur the fees and expenses attendant to trial preparation and trial.
Mediation is almost always the best solution, as it alleviates the financial and emotional burden of a trial – not only for the parties, but also for the children.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis for all of your Family Law needs.