The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Denver’s award-winning family law trial advocates. We’re experts in mediation of divorce and child custody cases in Denver and other cities throughout Colorado. Call us today to talk personally with a lawyer about with your Denver divorce and child custody mediation issues. (303) 502-9600.
I began my legal career as a trial attorney. I didn’t “believe” in mediation. Now, 18 years later, after representing many hundreds of clients in contested divorce and child custody cases throughout Colorado, I realize that mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution is often the very best way to resolve a substantial percentage of my clients’ cases.
What are the Advantages of Alternative Dispute Resolution?
The advantages of resolving your family law case through mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution are both plentiful and significant:
- It substantially reduces the “drama” inherent in almost all divorce and child custody cases.
- It significantly reduces legal fees and costs.
- It takes far less time than the normal court route.
- Most importantly, it allows you to retain more control of your future and the futures of your children instead of rolling the dice and letting a court make critical decisions involving highly personal issues.
Of course, if you like drama, and spending more money when less will do, and taking a long time to complete your case, and if you’re comfortable giving control of your life to someone else . . . .
Why Doesn’t Everybody “Mediate” Their Divorce or Child Custody Dispute?
Parties going through divorce or and child custody cases for the parties to become stuck in opposing positions that prevent them from finding a workable compromise. Mediation is designed to help the parties overcome these situations and to create new options.
Mediation can also help the parties gauge how a judge might decide a legal matter without the cost of litigation. It can be a great alternative to traditional litigation.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and it is playing an increasingly prominent role in resolving domestic issues in Colorado. Statistics show that agreements made voluntarily by the parties are more effective than those imposed on them by the courts.
Forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution:
There are three main forms of alternative dispute resolution in Colorado: (i) Mediation, (ii) Collaborative law; and (iii) early neutral evaluation/early neutral assessment.
Mediation is the most widely used method of alternative dispute resolution. The parties discuss the relevant issues and attempt to come to a resolution with the guidance of the mediator who is a neutral facilitator. Lawyers may or may not attend mediation. That’s up to each individual party. Usually, the parties are in different rooms and the mediator shuttles back and forth between them. This helps keeps the tension down by allowing each party to speak more freely about his or her concerns without risking an escalation. All discussions are confidential and no evidence or testimony from the mediation may be used in court. In fact, the mediator cannot even be called to testify.
Mediation is appropriate in divorce cases, child custody cases. It is commonly used in post decree matters, particularly with regard to issues such as parenting time and decision making. Many parties agree to mediation as an ongoing process for resolving all future disagreements.
Collaborative law is another alternative to the traditional legal process. It’s negotiation-centered rather than being an adversarial process. It requires the parties to consider the needs of others rather than their own interests, and to work on solutions that may benefit the whole family.
In collaborative divorce proceedings each of the parties is represented by a collaboratively trained attorney. Other professionals may also be brought into the process such as collaborative coaches who can help the parties work on new and more positive ways of communicating with each other.
The parties agree at the outset that neither party will seek the court’s intervention until all of their issues are resolved. If the parties are unable to reach a complete settlement, their parties’ counsel must withdraw. These and other agreements help motivate both the parties and their collaborative counsel to avoid escalating disagreements and focus on settlement.
The skills learned during the collaborative process may help the parties to communicate more effectively with each other post-divorce as they work out co-parenting issues.
Early Neutral Evaluation/Assessment:
ENE/ENA was developed in Minnesota. It is similar to mediation in that families are given the tools to make their own decisions. However, the process is focused solely on settlement. It should be used very early in the divorce process.
Under the ENE/ENA process the parties and their attorneys meet with a single professional or a two person team. Typically the team will comprise an attorney and either another attorney with experience as a child and family investigator, or a mental health professional.
Each party presents his or her concerns and perspective to the professionals who then provide an opinion about the legal merits of their positions. The parties are free to reject or accept the recommendations of the professionals. Like all alternative dispute resolution procedures, the process is completely confidential.
Hire Denver’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorneys
The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are family law mediation experts. All mediations are personally led by experienced family law attorney William (“Bill”) Thode. Call (303) 502-9600 for more details.