Settling a Colorado divorce out of court
Some couples going through divorce may find it advantageous to go through mediation rather than enter into court divorce litigation.
Not all marriages last forever. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. People involved in their second and third marriages have an even greater risk of filing for divorce. Couples who choose to dissolve their marriages have several options. While some divorces are best suited for traditional court litigation, others may be settled through alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is an effective approach for people who want to end their marriages without having to spend a substantial amount of money fighting their way through an emotional court battle. Many courts require attendance at mediation prior to proceeding to a court hearing.
When couples enter into the mediation process, they should agree to disclose all of the information that is critical to the case. Both parties must be interested in coming to an agreement regarding key settlement topics, including child support, parenting plans, alimony and property division. During a mediation session, the couple meets with a third-party mediator. The mediator is neutral, and is prohibited from giving any specific legal guidance to either party. Instead, the mediator is there to answer any general questions, make sure all topics are covered and help in the construction of the divorce settlement.
Advantages of mediation
For many couples, mediation offers many advantages when compared to court litigation. Divorce court trials can be expensive and may take a long time to finalize. People who go through the mediation process may be able to settle the terms of their divorce within a few sessions. Further, couples control scheduling of the sessions rather than have to wait for a court date. According to the American Bar Association, mediation also offers the following benefits:
- Sessions take place in a non-confrontational environment
- Couples are able to negotiate the details of their own divorce decree rather than have a judge determine the terms of their settlement
- Sessions take place out of court, allowing couples to make arrangements that may otherwise be unavailable
- Couples often leave the divorce on friendlier terms than if they would have battled over the settlement in court
- People are found to be more compliant with the details of their settlement when they have had a hand in creating the terms of the decree
When to involve a lawyer
Although attorneys are not required during mediation, many people choose to consult with a lawyer in Colorado before, during and after the process. An attorney may help to ensure that you get everything that you are entitled to in your divorce settlement. Going through a divorce can be emotional. It may help to have experienced legal counsel on your side.
Further, an attorney can assure that proper compliance with statutory requirements occurs, or that parties have addressed all issues thoroughly. Even if an attorney does not participate in the mediation, parties should not sign any agreements at, or after, the mediation without review and consultation by individual counsel.