Divorce mediation is a popular alternative to a conventional courtroom setting. Mediation involves both spouses, (possibly) their lawyers and a third-party unbiased judge, or mediator. Mediation can be as official or unofficial as you wish. The mediator cannot rule on your divorce or create court orders. Instead, the mediator is there to communicate with you and help achieve a compromise. What happens next depends on whether divorce mediation succeeds or fails.
A Judge Dissolves Your Marriage
Mediation is a faster and cheaper way to get a divorce than a traditional trial. You and your spouse must be able to compromise on the terms of the split, however, for mediation to work. You must work together on decisions such as property division, child custody and spousal support. Otherwise, you will have to go to trial for a divorce decree. If you can make mediation work, you and your spouse will take the decisions you made together to a judge to sign off on the agreement. This will generally be the only contact with the court you will need to get a divorce mediator in Fort Collins.
An attorney can help you and your spouse draw up a divorce agreement that includes every detail of the decisions you made together. It is important to get official documentation of your agreement for use later. You need a legally enforceable official document. Then, you will both submit the agreement to the court in the county where you live and qualify for a divorce. A judge will review your agreement to make sure it aligns with Colorado’s laws and – if you have children – their best interests.
If a judge agrees to the paperwork you submitted from mediation, he or she will process your divorce and issue a judgment. A judgment will officially dissolve your marriage and set the terms of your divorce in motion. To change the terms from that point, you or your spouse have to petition the courts and ask them to make the alteration. After a judge gives his or her approval and the courts process your paperwork, mediation has worked and you will officially be divorced.
You Proceed to a Divorce Trial
With successful mediation, you will never have to appear in court in Colorado. If you and your spouse cannot agree with each other on the terms of the split, however, or if a judge refuses to sign off on the agreement you created, you may have to proceed to trial. A divorce trial involves a judge and often attorneys. You and your spouse will each state your cases and provide evidence to support your side, if applicable. The judge will have the final word on all matters involved in your divorce, including child custody and property division.
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you will not have to prove your spouse caused the split for the courts to grant a divorce. You can receive a dissolution of marriage simply based on grounds such as irreconcilable differences or an irretrievably broken relationship. While this can keep things simple during the complaint phase, fault can make a difference to other aspects of your divorce trial if your case goes to court.
If you wish to persuade the courts to rule in your favor on matters such as child custody or property division in Colorado, you may have to involve the fault of your spouse. If adultery was a factor, for example, showing proof against your spouse could convince a judge to grant you alimony as part of your divorce settlement. Without instituting fault, your judge will make determinations based on the state’s divorce laws instead. Colorado is an equitable division state, for instance, meaning while the courts will divide assets fairly between a couple, they will not always do so equally. Hire a lawyer for assistance if you think your divorce case will go to court in Colorado. Here is a helpful checklist for what to bring or prepare to mediation in Colorado.