Denver, Colorado Divorce Mediation Questions

What is divorce mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party assists the parties in reaching agreements regarding their issues.  If agreements as to some or all issues are reached, the agreements may be reduced to writing by means of a memorandum of understanding or other document, which may be submitted to a court to become a court order.  Mediation is often ordered by courts when a case is filed, such as in divorce or custody cases.  While participation in the mediation process may be mandatory when ordered by the court, whether the parties reach an agreement on some or all issues is entirely up to the parties.

What are the benefits of divorce mediation?

A very high percentage of cases which are filed with the courts are resolved by the parties coming to an agreement, and mediation is one effective means by which this may be accomplished.    Mediation is generally much more cost effective than the parties proceeding to a contested court hearing, which may involve attorney fees and costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, require the involvement of expensive experts, and result in years of litigation, including possible appeals and rehearings.  Mediation can be done relatively quickly and allow the parties to resolve their issues on terms agreeable to each of them, without the necessity of participating in contested court proceedings.  The importance of parties being able to achieve finality regarding their issues and to move on with their lives, cannot be overemphasized.  Mediation can also be useful in resolving ongoing issues over a number of years even after a divorce is granted.

Mediation occurs in a controlled, confidential setting, which minimizes arguments between the parties and which allows each party to hear and consider what the other party is saying without the need for an immediate defensive response.  Mediation can be an effective means for parties to begin the process of learning to communicate with each other in a more civil less pressured way.  This is particularly important in cases in which children may be involved and the parties need to have the ability to discuss matters regarding the children for years to come in an appropriate fashion.  Even if the parties do not resolve all of their issues in mediation, their discussions in mediation are often helpful in parties  reaching agreements after the mediation has been completed.

Why do courts require divorce mediation?

While courts hear a large number of cases, insufficient resources exist for financial budgets, judicial officers and support staff, particularly in these lean economic times.  This results in many cases being delayed or continued for months or years while parties wait for their case to be heard in court.  When parties participate in mediation, a substantial number of cases are settled without the necessity of having court hearings, and in other cases, many issues are resolved even if the case is not settled entirely, which results in less court time being required.  Many cases can be resolved simply by the parties talking between themselves to settle the issues, but in those cases where the parties cannot reach agreements on their own, the assistance of a professional mediator can be invaluable in bringing about satisfactory resolution.

Do I have to participate in the mediation session in the same room as my spouse? 

While many parties are capable of engaging in appropriate mediation in the same room, it is not uncommon for each side to meet in separate rooms during mediation (known as caucusing) and for the mediator to go from room to room as part of the mediation process.

Do I need to have a lawyer represent me at the mediation session?

Domestic relations cases can be surprisingly complicated legally, and having to deal with your own emotions while making rational decisions about your children and financial issues can be overwhelming for many people.  It is quite often advantageous to have an attorney present for you who can advise you on the legal ramifications of various proposals, whether you should make certain settlement offers yourself, and who can interact with all of the other individuals involved without having the emotional turmoil which you may be experiencing.  There are some individuals who are capable of handling the situation well without the assistance of a lawyer, but the majority of parties involved in mediation find that having legal representation is beneficial.  It is important to bear in mind that while the mediator is likely to have some legal training and experience, the mediator is a neutral third party, and does not represent either party in the case.

How long will the mediation session take?

Several hours is not unusual for the parties’ issues, feelings and positions to be fully explored.  It is important to allow an adequate amount of time for the mediation to take place, as substantial progress in resolving issues often occurs at the end of the session, and the momentum towards settlement may be lost if the session cannot be completed.  It is also important to have sufficient time to put into writing any agreements which the parties reach, and to have the parties sign any agreements, so that there is no question about the agreements being legally enforceable.

What should I bring to the mediation session?

It is important to have completed as much as possible the financial disclosures which the Court requires as part of Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2, including a sworn financial statement signed by the party and notarized, copies of prior year tax returns for the past several years, copies of current paystubs or independent contractor compensation such as 1099s, and W-2s.  Forms for the sworn financial statement and other disclosures can be found at the Colorado State Judicial Department website at under the domestic relations self help section.  Besides the original documents, you should make at least two other copies of the documents for your own records, and so that the mediator and other party have copies to use during the mediation.

How quickly can the divorce be granted after the case is filed?

Under Colorado law, the marriage may be dissolved as soon as the 91st day after the court acquires jurisdiction over the parties, generally either by filing a petition together as petitioner and copetitioner, or after the other party is personally served with a copy of the summons and petition by a disinterested third party as provided by law, or after the other party signs a waiver of service of the summons and petition.  However, the divorce is not generally granted by the court until the parties have reached agreement resolving all issues in the case, or the court conducts a contested hearing on all issues which the parties have not resolved by agreement.