A common question our family law attorneys get on a regular basis is: is mediation required? The answer is: yes.
Family law attorney Allision Sutton goes over the basics of mediation in the article. Why is mediation required? What’s the role of the mediator? Who attends mediation? This is terrific information for folks who have a family law matter, such as divorce or a post-decree modification.
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Is Mediation Required in Family Law Cases?
If you answered yes, then you are correct!
Most family law cases, such as divorce or parenting time modification, require parties to meet with a mediator before going in front of a judge to issue a final decision.
Mediation is a mystery to many people. Lots of folks don’t fully understand its role and why it’s necessary. To complicate matters, mediation rules differ from one jurisdiction to the next.
Some jurisdictions in Colorado require you to go to mediation more than once. Other jurisdictions require a mediation session early in the family law matter process and again later on.
So if you’re one of those people who’s a little lost about mediation, don’t worry. This article gives you the basics.
Does it Matter When Mediation Occurs?
Some attorneys find that mediation down the line can be more effective than a session early on in the procedure. Why? They find its more helpful for the parties to meet after the finances have been disclosed and it’s more clear what specific issues might benefit from mediation.
Different Counties; Different Rules
As mentioned earlier, jurisdictions have different rules. Take Douglas County, for example. There, parties are required to enter into mediation even before a hearing to determine temporary orders.
Where Does this Mediator Come From?
That’s a good question. You can go through the Office of Dispute Resolution to secure a mediator. Some parties choose to hire a private mediator. Your attorney can tell you more about these options.
How Mediation Works
One party is in one room with their counsel or, in the times of COVID-19, in a Zoom breakout room. The other party is in a different room with their counsel. The mediator then goes back and forth between the two parties.
The Mediator’s Goal: To get the parties come to an agreement.
In mediation you may reach full agreement on all the the issues involved in your case. It’s also possible that you may come to an agreement on some issues but reach only a partial agreement on others.
Mediation is Confidential
Mediation is designed to be confidential so both parties feel confident enough to be open and honest – and hopefully reach an agreement.
In fact, there’s actually a Colorado law that says anything that happens in mediation cannot be use against you later.
For example, you can’t go into court and say, “Well, he said he was willing to agree to this or that in mediation, but how he is backpedaling.”
Mediation just doesn’t work that way.
The only way anything from mediation can be brought up later is if the discussion from mediation is put into a written document and submitted to the court. But here’s the catch: both parties must sign the document. Your spouse and their attorney may not agree to that.
Who Participates in Mediation
Since we’re dealing with a confidentiality requirement, only the parties to the case can participate.
Can I Bring a Support Person?
A lot of people want to include their current girlfriend or boyfriend or their parents in mediation. Again, because of the confidentiality factor, apart from your attorney, you cannot have another person with you at mediation.
There is an exception. If the opposing party, in this case your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, agrees to it, you can have an outside person present.
To recap, the mediation basics are:
- It’s required.
- It’s confidential.
- It’s designed to help you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce before you see a judge.
Questions About Mediation?
Our divorce attorneys are experienced and dedicated to helping you the stressful waters of your family law case.