When people think about divorce, oftentimes they think about long, drawn-out court battles, involving thousands and thousands of dollars spend on attorneys. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. There are other avenues that couples contemplating divorce can pursue. Grouped together, these other avenues are called “Alternative Dispute Resuloution,” or ADR. The two most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is where the parties meet with a neutral, third party, to discuss all outstanding issues in a divorce or allocation of parental responsibilities case. As a general rule, the mediator is a person with extensive knowledge and experience in the area of family law. The ultimate goal from mediation is to have a comprehensive agreement between the parties, which can then be submitted to the court for approval. If there is a comprehensive agreement between the parties, there is a chance that the parties won’t need to go to court for a final, permanent orders hearing.
In every single case, whether you want to or not, mediation is a requirement. All counties in the state of Colorado require the parties to attend mediation prior to scheduling a permanent orders hearing. However, coming to an agreement is not a requirement to mediation. You can agree to all, some, or none of the issues.
Choosing a Mediator
Since all parties are required to attend mediation at some point in their case, the next logical step is to find a mediator. This can oftentimes be a very stressful decision for an unrepresented party, since there are hundreds of mediators to choose from. The State provides mediators through the office of dispute resolution. Generally, through the state, mediators are paid $120.00 per hour, split equally between the parties. However, mediators can be much more expensive than that. Our office provides mediation services.
Arbitration is a mix of the court system and mediation. Essentially, the parties choose a neutral, third party, once again who is generally an expert in family law, to help them finalize their case. The parties meet with the arbitrator in the same way they would if the parties were in a hearing with the Court. The arbitrator takes evidence from either side and then renders a decision. Many people choose to pursue arbitration over a permanent orders hearing in order to save time and expenses.
While the parties are still required to pay the arbitrator for his or her time, they need not wait weeks or months, in many cases, to get their case wrapped up. The arbitration awards, which are akin to court orders, can be either binding, or non-binding, depending on what the parties agree to prior to the arbitration.
Benefits of arbitration are numerous. For one, the arbitration is held in a private place rather than in the courtroom, which is public. Secondly, there are times when an issue is very nuanced, such as complex tax issues, real estate, or business evaluations. Arbitration allows the parties to select an arbitrator who is an expert in dealing with these issues, instead of using a judge with less in experience in one of these areas. Finally, arbitration allows parties to have a hearing, essentially, without all the stress that comes with being in a courtroom.
Call our office today for a free case evaluation.