Divorce Frequently Asked Questions: Mediation
- How much preparation is required for mediation?
Often times, people believe that mediation is similar to the court process or a court hearing. Such is not the case. Again, mediation is basically a settlement conference with a neutral, third person whose goal is to help the parties come to agreements in their divorce or custody case. The mediator does not make decisions and has no power to make rulings in your case. Furthermore, that which is said in mediation is confidential and is not admissible in court. In general, the content of settlement discussions, whether at mediation or otherwise, are never heard by the judge and are precluded from being submitted into evidence pursuant to Colorado Rules of Evidence Rule 408. Thus, preparation for mediation really entails having the issues outlined for discussion purposes at mediation and convey one’s positions to the mediator. Mediation preparation can entail your attorney having documents, such as financial disclosures, or spread sheets ready for discussion purposes. One should also have identified, with his or her attorney, the various negotiation floors and ceilings on issues, such as property division or child custody. Beyond that, mediation preparation is nothing like court preparation. There is no testimony to go over, nor real exhibits to prepare. As such, stress levels and financial costs should be much lower than getting ready for a contested hearing in front of a judge or magistrate.
- Is mediation required to get a divorce?
Yes and no. Colorado statute does not require parties in a divorce case to attend mediation. However, many of the counties throughout the Denver metropolitan area do. For example, in a divorce in Douglas County or Arapahoe County, mediation will be required at least once, and sometimes twice. In Denver or Boulder counties, mediation may be required, but not always. Other counties, such as Jefferson or Adams, do not normally require the parties to mediate. A mediation requirement is not necessarily a bad thing or something parties should be concerned with. Mediation is a process in which both parties to a divorce case meet with a neutral third person whose sole function is to try to help them come to agreements on the contested issues. Attorneys usually attend mediation with their clients and cases often get settled via the process. That being said, not all cases do settle, and mediation merely becomes another step or hurdle the courts put into place to make it difficult, whether financially or temporally, for the parties to get to a final divorce hearing in front of a judge. The courts truly want parties to settle their cases and to avoid going to a final hearing. The courts know that mediation can increase the chance of resolution, though it is not always successful.