Funding Cuts Delay Colorado Divorce & Family Court Access!
first posted on: 9/7/2004
Colorado legislative budget cuts — estimated at $30 million dollars in the past two years — are constraining divorcing parties’ and parents’ timely access to Colorado divorce and family courts.
Layoffs, furloughs and vacant judgeships are exacting a toll on divorcing and separated parties’ lives and their pocketbooks, according to many observers.
As reported by a front page February 2004 story in The Denver Post, Colorado divorce attorney, Diane Carlton explained: It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it . . . Some cases are still unresolved after two and three years. My clients can’t move on with their lives, they can’t sell their house, custody isn’t settled, there’s no child support. It’s very destructive emotionally.
Many metropolitan Denver courts have restricted hours (many are now closed Fridays) and staff often work extended hours. Denver District Court now requires parties in divorce cases to pick up final paperwork, that the court clerks routinely mailed in the past.
Population growth in Arapahoe and Douglas counties (the 18th Judicial District) and in Adams and Broomfield counties (the 17th Judicial District) has especially increased divorce and other family and custody related filings, burdened already challenged staff, and delayed parties’ divorce and family court hearings.
Adams County District Court Chief Judge Harlan Bockman noted in an August 2004 interview concerning Colorado family court budget cuts, that the county’s court clerk workloads have increased 16% at a time that personnel have decreased 20%. “At some point, it’s kind of like your legs getting kicked out from under you. It’s crazinesss.”
Beginning November 2004, Boulder County’s hours for the public’s viewing its court records (including divorce and family law cases) have been halved to three hours daily (9 a.m. to noon). Additionally, court record clerks may provide such records only after a formal request and time to retrieve them (current Colorado law allows three days to track down such files as divorce records). Boulder County’s Court Administrator attributed these measures directly to the Colorado budget shortfall and cuts, and noted that similar file-viewing reductions have been recently imposed by the El Paso County (Colorado Springs) courts.
Update: Court budget cuts continue to adversely impact divorce parties’ access to Colorado (and especially Denver-Boulder metropolitan area) courts for family law disputes.
Divorce Mediation As Faster Alternative Dispute Resolution
In the face of such backups, Colorado divorce lawyers are increasingly urging their clients to consider family mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
“I tell some of my clients you’re going to have some other form of dispute resolution: pay for a mediator, pay for an arbitrator or a retired judge,” said Denver divorce and family lawyer, Michael DiManna, in a recent Denver Post article.
Our Divorce And Family Mediation Clients
Many of our family mediation clients reach a complete divorce agreement and submit all the required paperwork to the court well within the mandatory ninety day waiting period (required of all Colorado divorces, to impose a “cooling off” and preclude parties from acting impulsively). As a result, our clients are able to accelerate the divorce process, and move forward with their lives. Unlike parties awaiting a contested hearing before Colorado divorce and family courts, these families and their futures are not placed “on hold” for long periods of time (often more than a year, and sometimes considerably longer).
Dispensing with the need for a contested court hearing and otherwise expediting the resolution of your Colorado divorce or parenting case is, of course, just one reason to consider divorce mediation. See our website’s section on Why Choose Mediation? for other compelling reasons to consider mediation of your divorce case or parenting dispute.
Also, see our other feature articles, where we discuss in detail other Colorado legal, procedural (including divorce law and family mediation) or parenting topics. Presently, we look in depth at: