Deciding to end a marriage is not a decision that’s reached easily. In addition to the grief, regret, or anger that comes with dissolving a partnership you once thought would last a lifetime, there’s also real hesitation and fear about what the process will entail in terms of costs, time, and increased hostility.
Fortunately, there are a number of options for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that can avoid the expense and animosity that comes with litigation. Mediation and settlement conferences often offer a better way, reducing stress, alleviating tension, and achieving resolutions that make sense for all involved.
Participating in mediation is completely voluntary, but is sometimes mandated by the courts before a hearing with a judge is scheduled. There is no requirement to initiate paperwork or filings before the process begins, and you don’t have to wait for the court’s availability. This means that it can make a great deal of sense to attempt a private dispute resolution first, minimizing costs and aggravation. If an agreement is reached, a settlement agreement can be drafted and signed without ever having to appear before a judge.
Mediation can be accomplished in several ways. Each party can engage their own legal counsel prior to the process in order to become familiar with the laws and their rights but then represent themselves. They can also have counsel present and representing them at the mediation. As mediator, Teddi Ann Barry is a neutral party whose goal is to facilitate agreement – not to decide who is right or wrong.
When you choose to engage in a divorce mediation, you immediately reduce the level of stress involved in the various necessary discussions. The sessions take place in more casual settings; usually an office or conference room, and the parties can choose whether or not to be in the same room, and whether or not to be represented by counsel. The emphasis is on reaching resolution rather than on winning – the atmosphere is one of collaboration rather than on competition.
Settlement conferences are another option for divorcing couples in Colorado. In these conferences, our firm will sit down with you either prior to or during mediation to discuss the legal issues involved in your case. The goal is to provide you with a sense of your legal rights and an informal assessment of your case so that you have a sense of the possible outcomes you face, the issues deserving of compromise, and the priorities that are worth fighting for. Our discussions and feedback are based on our own knowledge and experience in both litigation and in settlement negotiations involving asset distribution, custody, visitation, and support. Settlement conferences can include the preparation of draft agreements for submission to court or as part of mediation.