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What does a divorce mediator do?

A mediator is a neutral professional. With expertise in an area of conflict (such as experience in divorce and the courts), a creative mediator can help a divorcing couple imagine solutions and options that largely meet both their interests and especially the best interests of their child or children. Another of the hallmarks of mediation is its respectful and confidential approach.

   
How does the process actually begin?

After speaking with both parties briefly regarding the process itself, a first session is scheduled. Larry generally works with both parties together around a round table, and as almost all mediators do, schedules sessions for two hour blocks of time. (The parties are not charged for this full period, of course, if the session concludes early.) This amount of time working together is generally optimal, as it allows the parties sufficient opportunity to address and surmount obstacles that could not be resolved in shorter periods. Longer sessions are generally not advised, because of fatigue.



Larry has sometimes been called the “John Madden” of mediators since he often uses a large flip chart (with colored markers), and after the parties have determined which issues require their attention first, options are considered and agreements are recorded as they are reached. Larry dictates notes after each session as well, to record the details of the parties’ agreements – to facilitate his drafting the Agreement in written form for the parties’ consideration.


How do we determine more complex issues?

During the process of mediation, additional information may be gathered, and the parties may even agree to hire a neutral consultant to assist their work in mediation with issues requiring special expertise, such as the value of a home or property, a business or a retirement plan. (The parties can agree in advance that this person’s opinion will be used only in mediation, with the further benefit of confidentiality and usually reduced costs.) Of course, many parties are able to discuss and agree on such matters in mediation, without any outside assistance.

Additional sessions are scheduled until all issues required by the Courts have been addressed by the parties.


What are the benefits to mediating a divorce?

Minimizing Distortion.

If you have ever played the game of passing a message around a circle of friends, you know that communicating through third parties often results in distortion of the message. Many couples are astonished to learn in mediation that their spouse's viewpoint is not at all as it was represented to them and understood by others, even by their own lawyer's office. In divorce mediation with both parties present, intent and meaning can be clarified immediately before misunderstandings compromise a couple’s efforts to resolve issues.

Minimizing Inefficiency and Cost.
Obviously, a great deal of time and money may be lost in communicating through third parties as well. (Imagine the following: a message from you to your attorney's secretary is forwarded to his or her paralegal and then to your attorney. The attorney speaks with your spouse's attorney's staff, then to your spouse's attorney, then to your spouse. A reply is relayed in the same loop only in reverse!) This can expend a lot of time and effort and unnecessarily escalate costs. Mediation can permit accelerated discussions and resolutions.

Why does mediation work?

Mediation is simply a powerful process. Accomplished mediators are able to focus on the real concerns of spouses and parents (their “interests”) and not merely their view of what is required to protect themselves and/or their children (their “positions”). Mediation works because the parties can directly hear the other parties' concerns and with the assistance of the neutral mediator, accommodate each other's concerns without unnecessarily compromising their own interests. Freed from the role of acting as an advocate for a single party (the ethical obligation of an attorney), a mediator can envision options that neither party (or their counsel) imagined!

Thus, our commitment: "Visions for A Cooperative Divorce™".

Can mediation assist divorced parents address changing circumstances?

Absolutely. Parents and children's needs change. Larry frequently assists couples (many of whom are new to mediation and did not use mediation in their divorce) to "tune-up" or reconsider parenting or support agreements that once made a great deal of sense, but later require changes to reflect new circumstances.

What is co-mediation?
                       
Co-mediation is where the parties choose to also use a second mediator, generally of complementary gender and professional background.

Upon request, Larry most often works with Elaine O'Reilly, MS, LPC. Ms. O'Reilly is a highly respected psychotherapist with expertise in children and divorce-related issues and a Practitioner Member of the Academy of Family Mediators. With co-mediation, a skilled law and mental health background and male/female balance is provided the parties.

Elaine and Larry have co-mediated high conflict cases and conducted dispute resolution training together.

 

 

 

 

Larry didn’t waste our time. He got to the heart of the issues and was clear about what our options were. His use of a chart pad helped us both see and agree on the data we were using. When we got stuck on an issue, he helped us "clear the smoke" by acknowledging our feelings and then moved us towards a decision by using a business mind set instead of an emotional mind set.
- R.F.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The costs were fair and probably less than the usual, due to the fact that we  were willing to come to agreement without going strictly through lawyers. We were able to be open to both of our needs and wants. The relationship we have as a result is friendlier, because we’re working for a common goal — our kids.
- S.B.

I think mediation is quicker and definitely less expensive than using a lawyer. Once we began and despite our conflicts, I always had total faith and confidence in Larry that he could get things back on track. Mediation made the whole divorce process easier. I was very pleased with the whole mediation process.
H.W.

In comparison with the litigation process, my mediation process was a walk in the park! It presented an even playing field where someone was actually working for our  best interests as well as the best interest of our son.
- M.H.



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