Mediation is never the first step to your settlement and resolution of your Divorce. Litigation is rarely a good answer either.
YOU NEED MEDIATION WHEN…
- You have accurately determined or agreed upon the value of your assets
- You have received the legal advice you need to make sound decisions
- You exchanged proposals and are stuck and can’t resolve the remaining issues.
Step 1. Gather and Exchange Your Financial Information.
You need to know what you have, what you owe, and what you need. Until you are equipped with the information and know if you need to have houses appraised, business interests valued or the marital value of stocks or retirement accounts determined, you are not ready to mediate successfully. Gather ALL the information you need before trying to resolve your Divorce.
Step 2. Determine the Values You Agree Upon.
Whether cars, houses, businesses, or investment accounts, you need to determine a marital value before you divide your marital estate. Deciding how much of your debt is marital or the responsibility of each spouse is equally important. A mediator cannot help you negotiate a settlement if you don’t know or agree upon values.
Step 3. Find the Expert Opinion When You Disagree on Values
- A realtor can give you a fair market value for your house.
- A business evaluation will help you understand the marital value of your business
- There are experts who value the marital interest in retirement plans & pensions
- Estate attorneys can help determine if interests in trusts have a marital value
- Family and Children Therapists can help you design the best parenting plans
- If you don’t know, aren’t sure, or can’t agree, jointly hire an expert to equip you with the information you need before mediation.
If you don’t know, aren’t sure, or can’t agree, jointly hire an expert to equip you with the information you need before mediation.
Step 4. Schedule a Consultation with a Family Law Attorney
Once you have your financial disclosures gathered and filled out your financial statement, meet with a divorce lawyer. Let her look at your financials, hear what you think you want in the settlement, and discuss your options. Once you consult with counsel separately or possibly together, you will understand the law, your legal options in divorce, and the possibility of having the lawyer draft your pleadings and documents necessary for Divorce in Colorado.
Know that we work with clients and assist with unbundled and consulting services all of the time. We are happy to advise you, draft documents for you to sign, or otherwise support you through your Divorce as counsel of record or confidant behind the scene.
Step 5. Use Your Financial Information to Talk Through Possible Agreements
Now that you know what you agree upon financially and have some legal advice to help you decide what agreements make sense, this is a good time to talk about a possible resolution. If you agree on almost everything then you are much better off hiring a Divorce attorney to draft a thorough and comprehensive agreement.
You get the numbers, put the words to numbers, and then determine the details.
Step 6. Choose the Best Mediator
- Are the issues you have to resolve more financial or family and parenting issues?
- Are you going to need the court-mandated 2 hours, a half-day, or full-day mediation?
- Are you going with or without attorneys?
Every County has an Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) list. This is a list of State approved mediators that must charge a State rate for your mediation. If your issues are not complex or you have limited financial resources, choose your mediator from the ODR list. If you have more complex issues to resolve and need more time and expertise then consider a more experienced or specialized mediator. Options include retired judges at the Judicial Arbiter Group (JAG), Judicial Arbiter and Mediation Group (JAMS). Another option is to call 3 great Family Law attorneys and ask who their favorite mediators are.
At Divorce In Colorado, we have litigators who also mediate and negotiate divorce and family law matters every day. We have a time-efficient and cost-effective process that works with couples to avoid litigation and court and restructure their family successfully moving forward.
Step 7. Mediate
Mediation should begin with the mediator already having proposed agreements or position statements from each party. By eliminating or articulating the issues to be resolved, you will save time and money.
Know that you can request to be separated and avoid the emotions of being in the same room.
Avoid agreeing to a partial settlement. Either you resolve everything or you wait until you can. If you commit to something that later has financial consequences because of new information or subsequent agreements, you can’t go back.
Avoid Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). MOUs are usually vague and without the detail necessary to reasonably rely upon a Court order, Do not hire a mediator who can’t draft a comprehensive agreement.
Once you have a comprehensive agreement, set a deadline and meet with separate attorneys to make sure all the details are included and the agreement accurately reflects your agreements with consideration of all the information you need to move forward successfully after your Divorce.