If you are in the process of a divorce or other litigation you may be subject to a COURT ORDER TO MEDIATE. What is the impact of this order? Will you be required to settle all your issues? Will you be denied your day in court? This article addresses a few misconceptions and opportunities presented by a court order to mediate.
1. THE MEDIATOR OR MEDIATORS DO NOT DECIDE YOUR ISSUES.
Participation in the mediation process is voluntary, and intended to help you resolve your issues, but not intended to dictate resolutions to you. If, after mediation, you and the other party are unable to reach agreements acceptable to both of you, you still may ask the court to decide your case at a hearing.
2. MEDIATION IS MORE THAN AN ADDED EXPENSE, IT IS ALSO AN OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE MONEY.
Most mediation sessions are charged to you at an hourly rate of between $60 and $150 per person per hour. Some mediation services are available free of charge for low income participants in community programs, such as in the program at Jefferson County Mediation Services. Because mediation provides you with an opportunity to resolve issues, it can save thousands of dollars in legal fees. Every issue you resolve should simplify any upcoming hearing and therefore reduce your overall cost. If you are able to resolve all issues, you will not need to have a court hearing.
3. MEDIATION INCREASES OPPORTUNITIES TO SETTLE, AND DOES NOT ELIMINATE POSITIONS YOU MAY TAKE IN COURT.
Because mediation is confidential, and the conversations held are not disclosed in court, mediation presents you with an opportunity to discuss matters freely, and to brainstorm solutions to your issues. If the conversations and brainstorming do not result in resolution, you can still go back to “square one” in presenting your issues in court.
These are just a few issues frequently raised about mediation. It is worth remembering as well that you do not have to be ordered to mediate in order to use mediation to help resolve your case. You can find mediators through community programs; through the Colorado Council of Mediators, now known as the Mediation Association of Colorado, or theMAC; through the Colorado Judicial Department’s Office of Dispute Resolution; and through searches on the internet or in QwestDex. As with any professional service, it is helpful to have a personal referral from someone who has had a good experience with a professional in the field. If you do not have a personal referral, you can do your own research by contacting mediators and interviewing them about their background, procedures, costs and approach. My name is June E. Anglin, I am a mediator, and I would be glad to help you with services or with information about services in this field.