Mediation is only mandatory if you and your spouse do not agree on all of the issues. If there is no agreement after the mediation has taken place, a contested hearing will be set. Mediation can happen before the Initial Status Conference to work out some of your issues, but can also be ordered after the Initial Status Conference if the Court feels there are issues that cannot be solved between you two alone. A list of mediators is typically provided by the Court, or you can choose to find a mediator on your own. The cost of mediation varies and is paid by you and your spouse directly to the mediator. However, for more information, you can call the State Office of Dispute Resolution at (720) 625-5940 or check with your local Court to obtain information on local mediators.
Mediation is a helpful process by which both sides can be heard with the assistance of a neutral, trained third-party. Unlike going to court, mediation allows for you to have some control because you can work together to resolve your issues amicably, to the extent you’re able to, rather than letting the Court decide after hearing testimony from each side. In this way, mediation is a tool that can help both sides get what they want through conversation and cooperation while feeling like they can express themselves openly, leading to a greater sense of satisfaction within this already often difficult process. Even if mediation doesn’t resolve all of your issues, it can still help to narrow the issues down and hopefully find some common ground that you may not have had before.
See Colorado’s Guide to Court-Ordered Mediation for more info.
Mediation is less costly than going to court, and you can choose to pay for hiring an attorney or not. If you do choose to hire attorneys, it costs less for them to prepare for mediation than it does for trial, which results in less cost for you. Additionally, it is informal, typically less stressful, and a quicker and more efficient way to resolve the issues when compared to going to court. Mediation can be held with both of you in the same room with the mediator, or you may choose to be in separate rooms and have the mediator travel between the two rooms during negotiations.
When children are involved, court-ordered mediation is encouraged to be completed early on so that issues can be resolved in favor of more effective shared parenting. Of note, if there is an allegation of domestic abuse and one of you objects to mediation, the Court cannot force you to mediate. There are mediators trained to handle the complexity of these situations, but it would be up to you to decide in that case whether you feel that you can safely attend mediation.