What is the Best Way to Leverage Mediation In a Non-Contentious Divorce?
How can mediation best be used in a non-contentious divorce? A lot of times, parties have decided to go their separate ways, but they’re not quite sure how to reach a final agreement, and they need assistance from a qualified mediator to get to where they need to go. Perhaps the parties have some disagreements about issues, but they’re not that far apart. For example, they may not agree on the value of their home. They may not agree on all of the holidays for a parenting plan. They may have disagreement regarding how to divide up their retirement accounts.
A qualified mediator can help the parties work through these issues at a very effective cost. There are various kinds of mediators, and the most common mediator used by a party going through a divorce proceeding in Colorado is through the Open Door Resolution Agency. That is an agency that has been approved by Colorado. It’s linked to the Colorado website. If you don’t have an attorney, for example, you could go to the website and ask for a referral to a mediator through that website. What we call ODR, Open Door Resolution Agency mediators charge $120 an hour. That cost is divided between the parties, so your cost would be $60 an hour.
There are other situations where your case is more complex. Perhaps you have a business. Perhaps you have a long distance parenting plan that you need to work out. Perhaps there is disputes about how to divide more complex financial assets. There are private mediators that you can use. Their cost varies between $250 an hour to $375 an hour. What you’re paying for under those circumstances is that mediator’s degree of experience and expertise in resolving cases.
It’s important to remember that mediators are not advocates. Mediators are neutral third parties whose job it is to help you reach an agreement, so they don’t give you legal advice. They might tell you what they think based upon similar fact patterns they’ve seen, but they don’t give you legal advice. That’s where it’s very helpful to have an attorney go with you to mediation. Your attorney can advice you whether or not the deal that you’re considering is in your best interest, whether you should agree to a 50/50 parenting plan, whether that’s going to be effective moving it forward. Whether you are giving away the farm so to speak in your division of property. There are people that are so anxious to get this process over with they’ll agree about anything just to have it done, and then they realize later they made a horrible mistake.
That’s why a good mediator in combination with an attorney can help you make the best decision possible for your unique situation and try and safeguard against any mistake that you will really regret moving forward. I have a lot of people come to see me about the parenting plan that they’ve entered to, and it’s important to realize that a parenting plan is very hard to modify once it’s been approved by the court, so it’s important to get input from an attorney and then also the assistance of a qualified mediator before you reach any final decisions regarding your case.