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Guide to court-ordered mediation in Colorado

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Alternative Dispute Resolution

While most people have heard of mediation as a way of settling disputes, only some know that it is also an integrated part of the divorce process in Colorado family courts. A judge can order the parties to attend mediation if they do not agree on all the issues. If the parties do not agree on all the issues in mediation, they can schedule a contested hearing in front of the judge.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that brings the parties together with a mediator who facilitates a negotiation between them and/or their attorneys. It is an informal process, always confidential and never binding unless the parties reach an agreement.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator is unlike a judge or arbitrator in that they do not make decisions for the parties but rather help them make decisions by providing valuable tools and helpful guidance, along with a structured conversation and an environment conducive to solving problems.

At what stage of the divorce process does it take place?

Mediation can happen before the status conference to settle some disagreements. It can also be ordered after the status conference if the court thinks that there are issues the divorcing couple still needs to work through. The court usually provides a list of court-appointed mediators, or the parties can choose one that is not on that list.

How much does mediation cost, and who pays for the mediator?

The cost of mediation varies depending on the mediator’s education and level of experience. Most mediators are law school graduates, attorneys or retired judges, although some are social workers and professionals. The parties are 100% responsible for paying the mediator directly. Mediators usually charge an hourly rate.

Mediation is an effective tool to solve problems, and the court uses mediation to supplement its procedures because it helps reduce the number of divorces that end up at trial. Although the parties tend to negotiate regardless of whether they have a mediator before reaching the trial stage, mediation is a non-adversarial process that aims to resolve conflict in a civil, sustainable way.