What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential, professional process in which a trained, neutral third party helps people in conflict negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. A divorce or family mediator assists separating or divorcing spouses, who are often parents of children, to name and resolve areas of conflict, while keeping the best interests of their shared children uppermost. Separating or divorcing couples without children can also benefit from enhanced communication and win-win outcomes offered by mediation.
A mediator has no authority to impose a solution. In mediation, each party will have the opportunity to express their point of view, and the mediator assists by helping the parties to communicate, to identify issues needing to be resolved, to develop options for resolving the issues, and to come to agreement on resolution if possible. The mediator may meet with the parties together or separately or both.
Mediators do not give legal advice. Parties are free to seek legal advice from an attorney at any point, and to have any final agreement reached through mediation reviewed by their attorney prior to filing it with the court. Attorneys may be present during mediation with the approval of the mediating parties. Mediation agreements are voluntary agreements. They are reached because the mediating parties find the agreement to be in their own and/or their children’s own best interests.
What is Family Mediation?
In family mediation, each family member will have the opportunity to express their point of view, and the mediator assists by helping the parties to communicate, to identify issues needing to be resolved, to develop options for resolving the issues, and to come to agreement on resolution if possible.
Often, couples facing divorce or separation must continue to co-parent their children. In these cases, a mediator can assist them in devising a post-marriage plan that allows each spouse to move forward with new clarity. Recent research consistently shows that the well-being of children of divorced parents is strongest when the parents are able to co-parent well after separating. Mediation assists parents in continuing to be involved in the lives of their children in a way that is optimum for those children.
Why choose mediation?
Although there are no guaranteed outcomes, mediation does offer the following characteristics:
In mediation, decision-making remains with the parties involved, rather than resting with a judge or court official.
Mediation typically costs less than court action.
Those who choose mediation over litigation in court report greater satisfaction with the outcome, even many years later.
Research has shown that parents who choose mediation remain more involved in their children’s lives post-divorce or separation. They are also judged by their co-parent (a high standard!) to be better parents.
Mediation also results in less re-litigation post-decree. In Colorado, mediating ex-spouses were shown in one research study to be two times more likely to have stayed out of court two years after their final decree was issued.
Mediation is confidential and private. The law provides that no mediator can be compelled to appear in court or to report to the court the specific details of the mediation process. Mediators may state that parties have attended mediation, or that the parties have failed to reach an agreement, if mediation is ordered by the court. Mediators can meet with individuals privately, and individuals are free to request that particular items in private discussions not be shared. Mediation is a private pathway to a private resolution. Details about individual lives are kept within the mediation process–not revealed in a public court room.
About Dr. Sandra Varley
Sandra has over twenty years of experience helping families re-negotiate healthy relationships. She has completed 40 hours of mediation training, and meets nationally recognized standards for professional mediation. In addition to her mediation work, Sandra is also a licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriage and family counseling in which she often works with high-conflict divorce and family systems. In the last five years, Sandra has served in full-time and adjunct faculty positions in the Master of Arts in Counseling Programs at Regis University and Colorado Christian University. As an instructor, she has designed and taught marriage and family courses to undergraduate and graduate counseling students.If you have questions about whether mediation is right for you, or to schedule your initial free 30-minute consultation, contact Dr. Varley at: 970-352-6830 ext. 0 Saturday appointments available
The Partnership for Families and Children
Parenting after Divorce
Recovering from Divorce for Spouses