Mediation is a meeting between parties to work out their differences with guidance from the mediator. I like to describe mediation as a meeting to see if the parties can “hold hands,” even if in separate rooms or via zoom.
Many issues in divorce/custody can be settled via discussion and compromise between the parties. Parties often need a neutral third party to help them navigate the system, however, to fashion a parenting plan or reach a compromise on division of property. Moving toward a resolution of issues, rather than spending thousands of dollars litigating matters, is usually in everyone’s best interest. A full agreement can also save the parties both time and energy.
The mediation process is always voluntary. By process, I mean that you get to decide whether to resolve matters, whether to disclose certain matters to the mediator, and which issues to address. Whether you must attend mediation, however, depends on the court if there is a legal action involved. In most divorce actions in Colorado, the courts require parties to attend mediation if any issues are not resolved – even if you mediated prior to filing an action with the court.
Mediation is not binding on either party unless you reduce your agreement to writing and sign it – normally titled a Memorandum of Understanding. It must also be filed with the court and entered as an order. Even if your “MOU” is filed with the court, there are rare exceptions when it may not be binding or enforced by the court. For these circumstances, you should confer with an attorney.
Yes. Discussions that occur during mediation cannot be disclosed by the mediator, nor can settlement offers be used against a party in the litigation process. The only time a mediator has a duty to disclose information is if there is an intent to commit a felony, inflict bodily harm, or threat to the safety of a child under the age of 18.
Mediation can occur with both parties in the same room, in separate rooms, or via Zoom in the same room or different rooms. Often times, the parties will be in the same room for a brief introduction and identification of the issues. After the introduction, the parties (and their attorneys if present) may move to separate rooms. If you are uncomfortable being in the same room with the other party, or there is a restraining order/protection order, separate rooms will be maintained for the entirety of mediation.
While I like to believe that all issues can be resolved, the reality is that sometimes parties do not see eye to eye. Some examples: if one party wants to move out of state and both parties want to be the primary caretaker of a child; if there has been abuse within the household one party may not want to reach an agreement; or one party may not be honest about financial matters. Even in these situations, a strong mediator may be able to help the parties resolve their differences. If two parties cannot resolve all issues in a divorce or parenting matter, however, then the remaining issues will be determined by the court.
For further information about mediation with the Law Office of Lynne A. Weitzel please call 720-550-1693 to schedule your appointment. You may also fill out the consultation request form on this website.