If you are involved in a family law court case, you will likely be ordered by the Court to attempt to resolve the disputed issue with the Opposing Party through mediation. Many people, especially those entrenched in a hotly contested issue involving their family, do not think that mediation will be productive and wonder why it is required. Mediation is, however, oftentimes more productive than either party anticipated and can lead the parties resolve their family law issue, rather than engaging in costly litigation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where both parties meet with a third party neutral in an attempt to resolve the legal issues that have arisen. If either or both parties have hired attorneys, the attorney or attorneys will usually also attend the mediation with the represented party or parties. Mediation can either be held in one room or in separate rooms. When the parties are in the same room, the mediator assists with keeping the discussions focused on the present legal issues, rather than re-hashing the past.
The mediator’s job is also to keep the discussion on a productive path. When the parties are in separate rooms, anything said to the mediator by one party is confidential, unless the party states that it is okay to share with the other side. The mediator will discuss each party’s goals to the mediation and try to get both sides to meet somewhere in the middle.
Choosing a Mediator
Choosing an effective mediator is key to having a productive mediation. There are no formal requirements to becoming a family law mediator, therefore, there is a vast array of skill levels among mediators in the state of Colorado. Using a retired Judge or a seasoned family law attorney, who both understands the legal issues involved in your case and is also familiar with the likely outcomes from different jurisdictions and Judges, will often lead to a far more productive conversation between the parties. When both parties have realistic expectations about the potential outcomes and their own risks in Court, the parties are much more likely to come to an amicable resolution.
Should I Bring An Attorney?
Neither party is required to bring an attorney to mediation, nor are they required to hire an attorney at any point in their family law case. However, the mediator is prohibited from giving either party legal advice during the mediation. Hence, it is advantageous to have a lawyer at the mediation to give you legal advice and help you negotiate the best resolution possible for you and your family. Having an attorney present also often makes a party feel more confident in entering into an enforceable agreement at the mediation, which can assist with avoiding Court in the future.
If the case has to go to court, a Judge, who has limited information about your family and little time to spend on your case, will make decisions that impact your family’s future in a matter of hours. Parties are usually far more satisfied and comfortable with the outcome of an issue they resolved between themselves, rather than having a Judge decide their fate.
Attending mediation with an attorney will help you feel confident in your decision to either proceed to court or to settle your case. An attorney will also help you analyze the costs and benefit of going to court. A thorough agreement reached in mediation will save you money both now and in the future, as, in mediation, you can discuss future conflict resolution and build details into your agreement that a court would not otherwise address.
At Gebhardt, Emerson, & Moodie Family Law, we offer representation at mediation as part of either our full retention services and also on an unbundled or flat fee basis. To discuss having one of our seasoned attorney’s represent you at mediation, contact us for a free consultation today.
Securing the services of an experienced attorney from GEM Family Law can help the mediation process to go as smoothly as possible. Our lead Denver family law attorneys can help you to reach your goals and address your concerns throughout the mediation process. Our legal team understands the social, financial, and legal challenges you may face and can help you to prepare for what lies ahead.