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How does mediation work?

When two spouses are unable to come to an agreement about their divorce settlement, mediation is one option that could help them. In Colorado, the parties often agree to mediation voluntarily. The mediator may or may not be a lawyer, so the fees vary for every case and could be an hourly or daily charge. The mediator helps the spouses explore the options available to them so that they may resolve their dispute. Rather than say that one spouse is right and the other is wrong, the mediator helps them find a solution that works for their specific situation.

In the beginning of divorce mediation, both spouses meet with the mediator together, at which time the mediator notifies them of the ground rules. One of these rules is that everything is confidential, so nothing discussed or recorded during the sessions can be repeated or disclosed to other parties unless both spouses agree to it.

After this, the spouses or their representatives can make opening statements if they wish to clarify their perceptions or make any issues known. If the spouses do not get along during the session, the mediator may decide to hold private meetings with each of them and pass each of their demands and offers between them upon approved disclosure.

When mediation succeeds, the mediator encourages the parties to sign a divorce agreement, which a judge reviews and either rejects or approves. When it fails, the mediator urges them to try again. However, they do not have to come to an agreement through mediation, in which event their case goes on to litigation. Then, a judge makes the decisions that they were unable to. Sometimes divorce mediation is not possible between the spouses because there is a history of violence or abuse. In such a case, the concerned spouse has an opportunity to oppose mediation.

Source: Findlaw, "Divorce Mediation - Overview", November 03, 2014

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