Frequently Asked Colorado Divorce Questions Part 8
- 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.
- 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.
- Can I appeal the court's final orders in my divorce?
Yes. If a party disagrees with the courts final orders in a divorce, whether related to child custody, division of property, maintenance, or any other issues on which the court has rules, he or she has the right to appeal the ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals. An appeal is going to be based on judicial error, whether procedural or substantive. Appeals must be filed within ____ days of the court signing off on the final order, or within the same time from the court denying any post trial relief made pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 59. The rules for appeal differ greatly from the rules related to the initial divorce and the appellate court will be looking at the overall record in the divorce case to determine if error occurred. With an appeal, new facts and circumstances are not part of the argument and there is no “trial” with testimony being taken or evidence being received. Rather, an appeal is generally going to be won or lost with the writing of legal briefs and the arguments made. Some appeals may ultimately be selected for oral argument in front of the appellate court. One must keep in mind not liking the court’s final divorce ruling and having legitimate grounds for appeal based on judicial error are two entirely different things. Appellate attorneys know and understand the distinct rules and procedures for family law appeals. Plog & Stein, P.C. offers appellate services to parties defending against an appeal.
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