A Tour Through Our Colorado Divorce Mediation Process
Here we’ll explain in some detail, how you work with us in our family mediation process. We’ll also explain our fees for divorce and family mediation services, and provide information about our mediation office locations, including maps and driving directions.
Initial Telephone Calls
Although many parties contact us initially by email, at , we personally speak by telephone with both parties before scheduling a mediation.
During this call or calls, we will describe our mediation process, especially as it pertains to your particular family circumstances, and answer questions you may have in deciding whether mediation and working with us is a good choice and fit for you. (Rather than provide a “complimentary in-office consultation” and postpone our real work until later, we prefer to give you as much information about our process as you need — in advance of your first appointment, and of course, without charge. When you come to our office, we want to roll up our sleeves and get right to work!)
We speak with both spouses or parents before scheduling, to emphasize that we are neutral and there to assist both of you, regardless of who first contacted us, and to learn of special issues that may influence the way we work with you. We won’t initiate a call to the second party (again, our process is a voluntary one and won’t work without your spouse or co-parent’s willingness to consider it), but we will follow-up and return calls promptly.
After we have spoken with both parties, and scheduled a convenient time for a first session, we will forward a letter or email confirming the time and place of our first appointment, and including a map and driving directions to our mediation offices. In that letter, we will provide you with an outline of mediation topics which we will likely discuss to design a divorce or parenting plan agreement, consistent with the requirements of the courts.
Many of our clients also appreciate an opportunity to organize their thoughts and collect information and documents, in advance of our first session. For that reason, our scheduling letter will also include a fist of helpful information to assemble that will direct and facilitate your efforts to prepare in advance for our work, if you are so inclined.
All three of these aids are available to you from this website as well. (Just click on the above links. To find all “new client introductory materials” organized by topic and focus of your mediation, feel free to check out the special Clients’ Resources section of our website.)
Ordinarily, we begin with both parties together in our first session. Why? We have sufficient experience to manage most initial meetings this way and it is more efficient and less costly than individual and separate first meetings. Most of our clients seem to appreciate and prefer this approach. On occasion, however, we may recommend, or you may prefer, that both parties meet individually with us before a joint session. (This can be especially helpful with longstanding and higher conflict situations, when there is substantial history that one or both parties wish to discuss privately, or when there are issues of partner violence or abuse and security concerns.)
First Mediation Session
We generally are able to schedule a first joint session one to two weeks after our telephone meeting.
In this initial session, we will discuss the mediation process briefly, learn the “big picture” of your divorce or parenting dispute, and agree on an agenda to work through the relevant issues. We will then assist you to begin the real work of discussing options and developing an agreement on all necessary matters. Often, it is helpful to determine “homework” to better prepare for the next session.
Session Length And Appointment Times
We schedule all sessions as two hour appointments (with the exception being mediation appointments with attorneys present; these are generally scheduled for a half day). Like most mediators, we have found this to be an optimal length of time for couples working directly together with the mediator. Shorter appointments simply don’t allow you to remain focused and to “get through” and resolve certain issues. With longer appointments, mediators and clients often get too fatigued to continue meaningful progress. (On occasion, particularly with parties coming from a long distance, we do schedule for longer sessions. More frequent sessions are simply not practical, given the travel times involved for one or more parties.)
We often schedule only two mediations per day. Morning sessions are generally scheduled to begin at some time between 8:30 to 10 a.m. (thus ordinarily ending at 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.), and afternoon sessions are generally scheduled to begin at some time between 1:30 to 3 p.m. (thus ordinarily ending at 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Because the process of divorce mediation is a dynamic, evolving process, we dictate detailed notes immediately after each session, and we typically prepare for each session by reviewing the work of the previous session. This is an integral part of our process, but we do not charge additional fees for this work.
Subsequent Mediation Sessions
Generally, we will meet with you in mediation every several weeks. This is often an optimal “spacing” of our work. It allows both parties time away from the mediation process to consider and discuss with others — if they choose — their emerging plan. It also provides an opportunity to gather and research information of importance (for themselves or to assist their spouse or co-parent).
Sometimes, because of clients’ needs, we compress our work and meet more frequently, and other times we meet much less frequently, due to one or both parties’ travel or restricted availability.
We continue with our meeting in this way, until all issues have been discussed and resolved and an agreement reached!
Our Memorializing Your Agreement
Although it is optional, nearly all couples will ask us to use our expertise to write up their unique and final agreement. This is an extremely important task, since the written form of the agreements you reach with your spouse or co-parent is reviewed by the judge or magistrate. The agreement is the capstone of all your efforts and if approved, becomes the form of the court order that (at least in the event of a future conflict) governs your after-divorce relationship with your former spouse or co-parent.
This writing reflects your agreements, and we avoid any “legalese” in its expression, but we pride ourselves on the completeness, professionalism and formatting of this final document called a “Memorandum of Understading.” The lawyer form of this same agreement is usually called a “Separation Agreement” — an odd phrase, perhaps, to describe the final divorce document! We regularly work with many family law attorneys who, after review, adopt without reservation and submit to the court our “form” of a couple’s mediated agreement. Again, your use of an independent attorney, although recommended, is optional.
After your mediation efforts are concluded, we reserve a significant block of time (as noted earlier, usually a full day — although we only charge for a portion of this drafting time) to author your agreement. Generally, later in the afternoon of that day’s effort, we meet with you to review and revise this draft.
Mediation is a voluntary process, from beginning to end, and at , we do not permit couples to sign their agreement at our office. We believe you should have the opportunity to review it carefully with whatever advisers you wish (an attorney, accountant, financial planner, other family, friends, etc.), and away from any pressures of meeting together. The goal, of course, is to develop in our work together agreements that will stand the test of time, not agreements hastily signed under pressure. Of course, many of our clients choose not to review the agreement with others.
At this session (usually our last meeting together), we also review with you the final court process and assist you in understanding the final Colorado court forms. A comprehensive checklist is provided, with all required documents to submit to the court. (Some of these you may have completed on your own, even before this final session, and these are accessible to you from this website as well.) If you are mailing in your documents (see our Frequently Asked Questions re Colorado Divorce and Colorado Mediation on when this may be appropriate), we even provide you with labels and self-addressed envelopes — to streamline your final steps in the process!
How Long Does The Entire Mediation Process Take?
We are focused in our style and approach.
Most couples with children (this expands the topics to be considered, of course!) will meet with us between two and four sessions of two hours length to consider, discuss and arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution of, all divorce issues. Many divorcing couples without children will meet with us only two or three sessions — in simpler cases, even a single session. Child support modification or post-divorce parenting issues commonly require a single session.
Of course, many factors can influence how long it will take to complete your mediated divorce and we will discuss these with you in our initial telephone call. Parties who tend to be in more conflict with each other, have more persistent child custody and parenting difficulties, or who have more complex marital estates or more challenging support, tax planning and retirement issues will often require more time.
No process (lawyer-assisted, do-it-yourself or mediated) can complete your divorce in less than 90 days. (This so-called ‘cooling off period’ is a requirement of Colorado law, seeking to keep divorcing parties from acting impulsively.) However, it is almost always possible to complete your entire mediated divorce well in advance of this required waiting period! As you may well imagine, contested litigated divorces can take many additional months or even a period of years to finally complete.
What Does It Cost?
See our site’s Fees page, to learn about the costs of our services for divorce and family mediation.
Further information about related issues can be found in our site’s Frequently Asked Questions and Myths Regarding Colorado Divorce and Colorado Mediation. You may also find our FamilyCraft: The Private Practice of Divorce and Family Mediation blog, of interest.
If mediation seems sensible, and you’ve chosen to work with us in mediation of your divorce or parenting matter, consider next visiting the Colorado Divorce Mediation Tools and Forms section of our website. Here, you’ll find free special tools and Colorado divorce and court forms to facilitate your planning for your mediation. These tools and forms can be very helpful, even if you are not working with us!