"...it is the general sentiment of the Court that parties know their cases better than the Court ever will..."
What is Mediation?
Nearly every single county in the State of Colorado requires some sort of alternative dispute resolution prior to scheduling contested hearings.
The Court may schedule a contested hearing before mediation is completed, but may also cancel the hearing if mediation was not completed before the hearing occurs. This is especially true in family law matters. This mandate was intended to help the Court manage overflowing dockets and protracted litigation. However, it is the general sentiment of the Court that parties know their cases better than the Court ever will and that the parties alone know what is best for themselves and their families.
Because the court requires mediation,
the State of Colorado Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) engages independent contractors in every county to provide an affordable option for parties to participate in mediation, often at the courthouse. Some contractors will travel or host in private offices. The current rate is $150 per hour. If parties cannot agree on a private mediator, they must use the ODR. In any event, these mediators will schedule up to four mediations in a day and often do not have the time to devote to cases that need more than the typical two hour minimum. As such, this option may be the most affordable, but it is often the least productive. Many attorneys will select this option when it appears there is little to no likelihood of settlement. But in any mediation, even the smallest agreements can become the foundation for subsequent agreements.
There are a host of private mediators all over the state that provide private mediation services with hourly rates that are higher than the ODR and can be upwards of $500 per hour. These mediators are often attorneys, paralegals, and former judicial officers who will host and travel for usually one-half day or full day sessions. Private mediators are usually chosen by mutual agreement of the parties. They are chosen for their effectiveness, experience, and availability. The best mediators are generally booked up to three months in advance, so it is important to start discussing private mediators sooner than later.
“…it is important to start discussing private mediators sooner than later.”
Given the conflict in virtually all family law matters, mediators generally caucus in mediation meaning that the parties remain in separate rooms and the mediator shuttles back and forth between the rooms. This enables the parties to remain focused on settlement discussions and less on the conflict. All mediations are confidential so that the parties are able to propose solutions that cannot be used against them later.
If the parties reach an agreement that is reduced to writing and signed, it is not confidential. Mediators and their notes cannot be subpoenaed to testify.
Advanced preparation and efficiency are necessary tools for a successful mediation. While some parties just need to get things off their chest, it is important to remain focused on the parties’ objectives so that they do not stand in the way of resolution. We always prepare proposed agreements in advance and provide the mediator with sufficient information to familiarize him/herself so that we can get right to work without getting stuck on the past. The most important thing is to attempt to leave with something in writing. Otherwise parties can become even more polarized after mediation. Some attorneys believe that partial agreements are appropriate while others believe that partial agreements eliminate negotiation tools when attempting full agreement. An experienced attorney will identify if any partial agreement makes sense in each and every mediation.
Attorney Márquez provides private Mediation services. Rates start at $250 per hour with a three hour minimum, payable in advance. We will host or travel within the metropolitan area and provide thirty minutes of time to review documents in advance at no additional charge.
Attorney Márquez’s extensive experience in high conflict, complex financial, and high asset family law cases affords him the unique ability to help parties find detailed and often creative solutions to solve their cases. He is an empathetic and active listener, but more importantly, he is honest, practical and effective. Less time is spent on rehashing the conflict than on understanding the conflict to formulate options that lead to resolutions.
We look forward to assisting you find ways to resolve your complex cases efficiently and fairly.