In Colorado most courts will require that you mediate your divorce/custody case even when you are just trying to modify child support or parenting time. Often people wait until the court orders the mediation to get it scheduled. I am a firm believer in mediating as soon as possible.
When you and your spouse/partner have made the decision to go your separate way, it is a great time to see a mediator. Sometimes when people get entrenched in the litigation process they can only see their side. Feelings get more and more hurt and anger and resentment build. If you mediate early on, you can discuss basic issues regarding the children and the finances, before you have each taken a firm stance.
Talk to your spouse/partner early on about going to spend a couple of hours with a mediator, maybe even before the case gets filed. Once the case is formally filed, you can go back to the mediator to get your agreements in writing and proceed through the case quicker and with less stress.
Many people don’t understand what mediation is so they turn it down. I suggest that you find out what you can about the mediation process. You may want to talk to a few mediators to find out what the cost is and how they conduct their mediations before you approach your spouse. There is rarely a reason not to mediate. Exceptions would be situations where the other spouse is dangerous, there has been domestic violence or where there are protection orders in place. Otherwise the benefits include:
- Far less cost than “fighting it out” in Court.
- You and your spouse/partner have control over your future instead of letting a stranger tell where your children will live, who gets the house, etc.
- Studies show that when people make their own agreements, they tend to comply with those agreements far more than people who were ordered to do this or that by a judge.
- The litigation process is draining, financially and emotionally. You can wait a year or more for a final hearing only to have an outcome that that hate.
- You are putting your family first by reaching an agreement. When people battle it out in court, it is difficult, if not impossible to reestablish a relationship with the other person that benefits your kids.