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Facing a family law dispute can be emotionally draining. Fortunately, mediation offers a constructive alternative to the traditional courtroom battle. The attorneys at Solutions Based Family Law are equipped to represent you in mediation, and we also have attorneys that can serve as the mediator. This guide equips you with the knowledge and tools to navigate the mediation process effectively.

Breaking Down the Mediation Process: What to Expect & How to Prepare

Mediation is a collaborative process where a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates communication between you and your ex-partner. Unlike litigation, where a judge dictates the outcome, mediation empowers you both to reach an agreement that works for your family.

Here's a quick breakdown of the key differences:

  • Cost. Litigation can cost a lot more than mediation.
  • Timeframe. Litigation can be a lengthier process that is dependent on the court schedule and availability, while mediation goes at the pace the couple sets.
  • Control. Mediation allows couples to have more control and autonomy over the process and outcomes.
  • Focus. With litigation, the goal is winning and appealing to the court. The goal of mediation is to reach a mutual agreement.

What to Expect During Mediation in CO

Once you begin attending mediation sessions together, the mediator may start the session with introductions and explain the ground rules of mediation. Throughout the sessions, the mediator will guide the conversation, ensuring both parties have a chance to be heard.

Each party will have a chance to explain their perspective on the issues being mediated, such as child custody or division of assets.

If both parties can agree on a solution, the mediator will help draft a written agreement that outlines the terms called a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement can then be reviewed and approved by each party's lawyer if you decide to hire someone to do this. If no agreement is reached, the mediator will advise you on your next steps, which may involve litigation.

Common Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them

If you decide to pursue mediation, you should be aware of the following potential pitfalls:

  • Entering with unrealistic expectations. Mediation is a negotiation, not a guarantee. Be prepared to compromise.
  • Letting emotions hijack the conversation. Stick to the facts, avoid blaming, and focus on solutions.
  • Being unprepared. Gather information and organize your thoughts beforehand to present your case effectively.

How to Prepare for Mediation

You shouldn’t show up to your mediation sessions without having prepared. Below, we discuss steps you can take to ready yourself for mediation.

Gather information. You will need facts and evidence to back up your arguments. Working with an attorney, you should take time to understand the laws governing your case and consider what evidence will best support your case goals.

You should collect and organize documents that can help with negotiations, such as:

  • tax returns,
  • pay stubs,
  • bank statements,
  • childcare records,
  • school calendars, and
  • any relevant medical history of either party or children involved (if applicable).

Organize your thoughts and wishes. You should take time to understand and outline your desired outcomes for each issue. A lot of times people draft what is called a position statement so that the mediator is aware of your hopes, concerns and wishes. During the sessions, you can refer to this list to remind yourself about what terms you are not willing to bend on versus those you are. You can also see which of your goals lacks supporting evidence (and take time to strengthen your case).

Practice your responses. It may seem nerve-wracking to discuss what you want. If you are nervous, talk through your key points and arguments with your attorney or friends to hone your communication skills and practice staying calm under pressure.

Take stock of your emotions. Emotions are likely to run high during some mediation sessions. However, getting angry and arguing can be counterproductive when you’re trying to negotiate. Here are some tips to manage your emotions during stressful or upsetting situations:

  • Deep breathing exercises. Take slow, deep breaths to calm your nervous system when emotions arise.
  • Focus on the future. Remind yourself that the goal is to reach a sustainable agreement in the best interest of everyone involved.
  • Listen actively. Show respect by allowing your ex to speak uninterrupted, even if you disagree.

Learn More About Our Mediation Services

The family law attorneys at Solutions Based Family Law offer comprehensive mediation services to clients in Arapahoe County and the surrounding areas. We have attorneys who can serve as the mediator. As the mediator cannot offer either party legal counsel, other members of our team can attend the mediation sessions with you and advise you on the legalities of certain decisions.

Contact us at (720) 463-2232 or complete our online form to talk with a member of our team.