If you are considering divorce, you may feel daunted by the legal process. You may even begin to feel anxiety when you start to consider the cost and time court proceedings may require, and the loss of control over the outcome of your case when a judge is calling the shots. However, court is not inevitable, and it isn’t the only solution for divorce proceedings.
Mediation is one of the options available to you if you want to avoid court and is usually ordered by most Colorado judges before parties will even be able to proceed to trial. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, is hired to resolve the case. This process will ensure that both parties have a say in the results and that the outcome is balanced and fair to all parties involved. Additionally, the process is more streamlined, less expensive, and more private than court proceedings would be. If you and your spouse and the mediator can come to an agreement, the agreement will be written into a Memoriam of Understanding, which is then signed by the court. After the Memoriam is signed, it will be incorporated into a more formal and detailed Separation Agreement.
Arbitration is another possible option to avoid court. Arbitration, just like mediation, is a more private and efficient alternative to court. Both parties need to agree to arbitration before it begins, otherwise, arbitration cannot be ordered. A professional, called an arbiter, will be presented with all the facts and make a final decision in the case. Arbitration is more like court, with the arbiter acting as a sort of judge, however, the process is less public, less expensive, and less time-consuming. Arbitration also offers a more relaxed environment for each party to present their side of the story. After the arbiter has made a final decision, court is no longer an option, as the arbiter’s decision is valid and enforceable by the court.
Court is more costly than either arbitration or mediation because it will require more of your attorney’s time. This can be especially true if proceedings are contentious and are dragged out. In addition to the cost, you lose the ability to make decisions in your own case. Once the case goes to court, the decision is in the judge’s hands, whether it be a divorce, a child custody issue, or a post-decree issue. Mediation and arbitration allow the involved parties to retain some control and negotiate with the other party. While it is ideal to have more control and keep the case outside of court, it is sometimes unavoidable if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement. In this case, it is especially important to have a capable and competent attorney by your side to walk you through the court process and tenaciously represent your interests in court.
In the end, it is possible to avoid court if you and your spouse can come to an agreement on your own or in mediation or arbitration. All three options are less costly, more efficient, and allow you more control over your own situation than if you take proceedings to court. To decide on the best option for you and your circumstances, it is recommended you hire a strong and capable attorney to advise you on your choices and the details of those choices. The right attorney will also help guide you through the entire process no matter what choice you make, whether that be inside or outside the courtroom.