Divorce continues to be common across the United States, and many divorcing spouses find that they are unable to resolve the terms of their divorce without some sort of intervention. However, to avoid having the court make the decisions for them, going through divorce mediation may be in the couple’s best interests. If you want to know more about what to expect from the divorce mediation process, consider contacting an experienced lawyer at the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 571-7572 to schedule a consultation.
Divorce mediation is an opportunity for spouses to meet with a neutral party known as a mediator who can help resolve the points of contention in the divorce. Generally, mediation will occur in an office or virtually, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
Mediators are tasked with helping spouses come to agreements regarding the finalization of their divorce. This generally includes issues regarding the division of marital property and assets, child custody, the child’s best interests, and child support, according to the Colorado General Assembly. Mediation agreements are not binding until the divorce settlement has been finalized in court.
There are many reasons why couples may choose to participate in divorce mediation instead of having a trial. Generally, going through mediation is a good opportunity for spouses to make decisions regarding the terms of their divorce settlement, according to the Colorado General Assembly, without having these choices made by court officials. Some of the benefits of divorce mediation include:
If spouses can work out the details of their divorce, they may be able to move forward with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is typically less expensive than a contested divorce and allows the spouses to finalize their divorce in a more timely manner than if the divorce were to go to trial.
The mediation process can play out differently on a case-by-case basis. However, if they make the decision to move forward with divorce mediation, a general idea of what spouses can expect includes the time:
Before going into mediation, it may be in a spouse’s best interests to speak with the mediator individually. This can be a good opportunity to provide the mediator with information regarding the marriage background, points of contention, and other relevant details. Some mediators also request spouses to fill out questionnaires so that they can better serve the family’s needs. Mediators may also request that spouses sign confidentiality agreements showing their understanding that the mediator will not be allowed to discuss the details of the mediation sessions at trial.
Mediation sessions are generally held in office settings, but they may be available virtually in some cases. Mediators may initially meet with each spouse separately to ascertain their specific wants and needs prior to the joint mediation session. Each spouse may be given the opportunity to make a statement regarding the specific points of contention, and the mediator will then ask each spouse questions to obtain more information and attempt to reach an agreement.
Both spouses should be prepared to listen to what the other spouse is saying and be open to compromise in the hopes of settling the divorce without having to go to trial. Compromising does not necessarily mean that the spouses will need to agree, but having an open mind increases the opportunity to resolve the problems between them.
Commonly, the couple’s needs and desires overlap. In situations where there may be limited financial resources or when the couple has been unable to satisfy their own needs throughout the divorce process, it may be more difficult to negotiate a settlement agreement. However, with a mediator advocating for an amicable resolution, spouses may be able to come to a compromise that can make both happy.
The mediator will be responsible for introducing helpful suggestions, brainstorming, and helping spouses evaluate their potential options to come to an agreement in their case. Many mediators approach divorces as problems that need to be solved. By figuring out which concessions and compromises can be made, spouses can further their own interests and finalize their divorce more quickly.
Once spouses have resolved the points of contention in their divorce through mediation, it will be up to each spouse’s attorney to draft the settlement agreement. Although signing the divorce settlement does not make it final, once the judge sees that both spouses have come to an agreement regarding the previous points of contention, he or she will simply need to review the settlement to ensure that it is legal. Once the court approves the divorce settlement, the divorce will be considered final, and the final divorce decree will be issued.
Each spouse will then be required to adhere to the terms of the divorce settlement. Spouses who fail to follow the terms of the divorce—dividing marital property and assets, following child custody plans, or making regular child support or alimony payments—may be found in contempt of court and face harsh penalties. The penalties can include wage garnishment, fines, jail time, and other consequences.
The divorce mediation process can be an excellent way for a divorcing couple to resolve the details of their divorce settlement without having those decisions made by the court. If you are going through a divorce and are interested in mediation, consider contacting an experienced lawyer at the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the divorce and mediation process.