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What to do When Mediation Fails

Mediation in family law cases is a process in which a neutral third party called a “mediator” runs a negotiation meeting with the goal of coming to a settlement of one or all the issues.  Mediators have no authority to force an agreement or to make any binding decisions, they are there to help with the negotiation process and control the format of the meeting.  Unless there is a compelling reason, most Courts will order parties to mediate prior to any contested trial.

There are many benefits to mediation.  Trials are expensive, stressful, and place the power into a stranger’s hands (the Judge).  By going to mediation and reaching an agreement, the family avoids the high legal costs of trial, end the case much sooner, and the parties can define the terms of their own Court orders.  With the ever-busy Court dockets in Colorado, months and even years can be shaved off a case if an agreement is reached at mediation.

Mediators are typically attorneys or former judges.  There are hundreds of mediators based all over the state of Colorado.  As expected, each specific mediator has their own style, strengths, and weaknesses.  Choosing the right mediator for your case will elevate the chance of you reaching an agreement. Burnham Law has years of experience mediating with numerous mediators based all over the state of Colorado.

One of the most important rules concerning mediation is that all offers made at mediation are confidential.  The Court is not allowed to learn about any offer made to settle the case.  Additionally, no party (including the mediator) may disclose communications made at mediation unless specific circumstances are met.  These rules allow the parties to be freer in making offers to settle the case without the risk of the Judge knowing what you (or the other side) were “willing” to settle for.

Not all cases settle at mediation.  In these situations, the cases will then proceed towards trial.  However, at Burnham Law we are sure to use the “failed” mediation as an opportunity to gain an advantage in your case.  While the goal at mediation is to settle the case, mediation can be an opportunity to learn more about your case, its facts, and the opposing side’s motivations.  While Burnham Law cannot guarantee every case will be resolved at mediation, what we can guarantee is that your lawyer will leave mediation armed with additional strategy and insight to best represent you.

 

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Heidi
Whitaker

Partner - Domestic Relations

Fort Collins

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