Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.36) June 1, 2014
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a Littleton attorney specializing in divorce and real estate law in the Denver area, including Denver and The Tech Center, Littleton, Englewood, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, and Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson County, I often attend mediation with my clients.
Mediation is a confidential settlement conference with a third-party person called a mediator. The mediator is usually a lawyer with some experience in the subject of the litigation. He is neutral, and he will give a fresh set of impartial eyes to the facts and issues in your case. The cost of the mediation is usually split between the parties. The mediator's skill and expertise is in trying to get people to settle the case.
In my law practice, mediation is a frequent event. All of the Colorado Real Commission approved real estate forms require the parties to attend mediation prior to even filing a lawsuit in a dispute over a residential real estate transaction. Most courts in both family law and the civil docket require the parties to attend a minimum of a two hour mediation session with a mediator before the court will hear your case. Mediation is often a provision in a Separation Agreement as a condition of returning to court in a Colorado divorce in a post-decree proceeding.
Just to be clear: mediation is not arbitration, it is not binding unless the parties agree, and it is not a court-proceeding. No decision or ruling is rendered by the mediator. But mediation is an opportunity to have a neutral third person attempt to intervene in a contentious situation and reason with both sides to come to a compromise.
Usually at mediation, the mediator meets in separate rooms with you and your lawyer in one room and your opposing party and his lawyer in the other. The mediator then examines the pleadings, whatever documents you choose to provide him and opines about the strengths or weaknesses of the case. He shuttles back and forth between the parties to try and settle the outstanding issues.
Any settlement offers or personal confidences revealed at the mediation are kept confidential, and the mediator cannot be called as a witness to testify if the mediation fails and the case proceeds to court.
Of course, cases only settle if the parties are willing to compromise. If you attend mediation just to satisfy the court's mediation order, or if your expectations are too high, it is likely to be a waste of time.
It is always better to craft a settlement you can live with rather than take the risk of a judge or jury deciding the issues in the dispute. If you approach mediation as an opportunity to step back, and allow the impartial mediator to provide a fresh perspective, cases are often resolved.