Mediation at Cordova Law Firm, LLP
of the Cordova Law Firm, is not only a licensed attorney in Colorado, but he is also a Certified Mediator as well. Mediation can be an excellent alternative to litigation. In mediation, the parties meet with a third-party neutral, often an attorney or psychologist, who helps them negotiate an acceptable solution. Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator is not authorized to make decisions about the dispute; rather, he or she simply facilitates communication between the parties, helps them think of solutions, and suggests options for resolution. The resolution is often based on what other couples have done in similar circumstances, or what the judge may decide, should the parties take their case to court.
Courts often order divorcing couples to go to mediation. However, the parties may also decide to use mediation themselves without being ordered. Many courts provide mediators, or there are mediators in private practice. Because there is direct communication between the parties, the process is often quicker and less expensive than relying on the court or the attorneys to work out a resolution. Also, if the parties are able to negotiate their own agreement, they are often more satisfied with the results than if the court decides.
What is Mediation?
Mediation Can Save Time and Money
While not all disputes are appropriate for mediation, this alternative can be a means to speed up the resolution process by keeping the case out of the courtroom. Cases that can be resolved using the mediation process are far less costly than traditional lawsuits.
The Process of Mediation
To begin the process, both individuals meet with a Mediator who will facilitate an open dialogue between the parties. As a neutral third party, the Mediator will empower the individuals to communicate, identify the issues and openly express their feelings in a respectful manner. As mediation progresses toward a mutually agreed upon goal, and if both the parties can agree on a solution to the problems at hand, an agreement is written and signed by the Mediator and the individuals involved. Before signing any agreement, the parties have the option to have the mediation agreement reviewed by their separate attorneys, because the agreement may result in a binding contract that is enforceable in a court of law.
Mediation provides the opportunity for both parties to agree on a solution through communication, negotiation and compromise. Mediation results in solutions that both parties have created, and statistics prove that mediation works!
In mediation, the parties are free to decide how the process will work. They can meet together or do their negotiating from different rooms, even different cities, for example, in a conference call. The process lasts only so long as the parties believe it is useful. If either party is uncomfortable with the way the mediation is going, he or she can end the mediation. There is a limited but important element of confidentiality in mediation. Neither party can disclose to the court what is said in mediation. This protection is there to assure the parties that they may be creative in mediation, brainstorm, or suggest possible solutions, without being concerned that what they say will be used in court.
Because the parties control mediation, it is often a better process for resolving disputes about families than going to court. Especially where there are children, it is often beneficial for the parents to resolve issues concerning their children between themselves, rather than leaving it up to a judge. Parents are usually better equipped to make decisions about their children, and mediation often makes it possible to make those decisions, even where the parents are having difficulty communicating.
Most good family lawyers support and encourage the use of mediation. In fact, you should think about mediation as a supplement to good legal advice. You can often meet with your lawyer to help you prepare for mediation and to gather the necessary documents. Finally, your lawyer can help you review the legal ramifications of any agreements you reach in mediation. That way, you can best protect yourself and your children
How does mediation work?
Parties who mediate meet with a neutral third-party. The parties may meet in the same room, or choose to be separated, with the mediator shuttling between them. Generally, the parties may negotiate virtually all the ground rules of the mediation, what issues will be addressed, who will attend, and every other aspect of the mediation. The mediator’s tasks include providing information the parties need to make decisions about their agreement, and helping the parties brainstorm solutions. While the mediator does not represent either party or provide legal advice, the mediator can provide legal information, which may give the parties an idea how their case will be treated in court. The mediator may also act as a counselor to help the parties determine what each of them wants in the agreement. This information often helps parties negotiate their own solutions.
Can I still use an attorney?
Yes. Like most aspects of mediation, you control the process. You have a right to legal counsel in every element of your life, and this is not taken away just because you are mediating. Whether attorneys will actually participate in a specific mediation session is open for agreement by the parties. If one party insists they will attend while the other insists they won’t, mediation may not be possible. But because the mediator cannot give you legal advice, you may want an attorney involved, either as part of the mediation or as a reference outside the mediation. Or you can choose not to use an attorney at all.
Is the outcome binding?
Only if you come to an agreement. While there have been cases that turned on this question, generally, if you enter into a signed agreement, the court will likely enforce it. Of course, you can always ask to have any agreement reviewed by your attorney before you sign it. If you don’t come to an agreement, not only is everything in the mediation discussions not binding, it can’t even be admitted into evidence in court. This rule is to assure the participants they are safe to make suggestions and brainstorm ideas without fearing they will be held to them later, unless they are signed.
How long will mediation take and what will it cost?
Most mediations take much less time than most people think. At The Harris Law firm, the average mediation for a typical divorce takes between two and five hours. This may be done at one time, or it may be divided over several sessions. This does not include any time necessary to prepare the agreement or develop any other paperwork that may be necessary. Such paperwork may require additional time by the mediator. The cost will depend on how long the mediation takes and, if there is paperwork, how complex the case is. Generally the charges for the mediation are for the mediator, which is the cost of a single attorney, and the cost of the paperwork, which may involve both paralegal and mediator time. A major advantage is that this cost is usually divided between the parties, and is less than if each party were to hire his or her own attorney to do the negotiating.
When can mediation occur in the process?
At any time—before any papers are filed, during the paperwork process, or just before a court date. The point is, a settlement negotiated directly between the parties is almost always more acceptable to both parties than an outcome decided by the court, or an outcome negotiated by the parties’ representatives. The best time for mediation is anytime the parties are ready to settle.
Scheduling an Appointment for Mediation
To schedule an appointment for mediation, please contact us at the Cordova Law Firm, LLP by clicking the button below.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR.)
Because our court systems are overburdened, the State of Colorado encourages people to attempt to settle their problems outside of the courtroom by using varying forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR.) Mediation is a specific type of ADR, and a process that can be either court-ordered or voluntary.