What is mediation?
Mediation is a process for resolving conflict equitably and cost-effectively, with the help of a neutral third party. Unlike a court case where one party wins and the other loses, the hallmark of mediation is that both parties’ interests are addressed. An effective mediator helps participants:
- Clearly define the disputed issues
- Tone down the communication process
- Stay focused on the issues at hand and engage in productive dialogue
- Reach comprehensive agreements that address the particular needs of every family member
What does the process look like?
Prior to commencing a mediation session, Ellen will invite the parties to submit any relevant documents that she can review in order to quickly get her up to speed on the history of the parties’ case and the current disputed issues. These documents may include Sworn Financial Statements, pending motions, Court orders and the parties’ Separation Agreement, for example. Ellen Squires also encourages parties to submit confidential settlement statements outlining the issues to be addressed and their respective positions on each issue. Before the session, Ellen is available to speak with the parties to answer any questions about the process and her role as a third-party neutral.
Parties may choose to bring attorneys with them to the session, however Ellen Squires is very experienced and comfortable working with unrepresented parties as well. When working with unrepresented (also known as pro se) couples, Ellen Squires likes to limit sessions to two hours if possible. Mediation can at times be emotionally charged and draining. Shorter sessions that break disputed issues into manageable pieces helps participants stay focused and in the moment so decisions are made in an informed manner.
During the mediation session, the parties can be in the same room with the mediator or placed in separate rooms. In that instance, the mediator will perform what is known as “shuttle mediation”. Ellen Squires prefers to work with parties in the same room, particularly if the parties are discussing parenting issues, however she is sensitive to a party’s request to sit separately from the other party.
Ellen Squires will help the parties stay focused on the issues, communicate in productive manner and engage in creative problem solving. As a neutral third-party, Ellen Squires cannot make decisions for the parties, nor can she give legal advice. She can however share with the parties the law in a particular area and her experience of how the Courts have handled similar issues.
Agreements reached in mediation are not binding unless reduced to writing and signed by both parties. Ellen Squires can memorialize any agreements reached during your session in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding which can then be filed with the Court. Ellen drafts with great precision and with an eye for detail. Her end-goal is to produce a comprehensive document that is easy to understand and designed to prevent future litigation.
Too often in a divorce, parties feel like bystanders while lawyers, judges, and others work out critical issues that can have long term ramifications. Nobody truly wins when a divorce case goes to trial, as the stress, worry and expenses pile up quickly. This takes an emotional toll as parties worry about their financial futures and their children’s emotional well-being. Mediation gives couples greater control over the dissolution process in a less contentious setting while preserving privacy. Mediation also gives parties the freedom to engage in creative problem solving that can produce agreements tailor made for the unique needs of their family. Mediation is a cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation saving parties both time and money.
Who can mediate?
In Colorado, mediators are not required to have any training or certification. This makes the careful selection of a mediator all the more critical. Ellen Squires completed a 40-hour mediation training program in 2011 and since then, has completed countless hours of continuing legal education on the subject. Ellen Squires has performed hundreds of mediations and has the added advantage of over 17 years of experience as a family law attorney.
What is the cost to mediate?
Ellen Squires charges $225 per hour (total, not per party). Full payment is required at the end of each session. Drafting costs are separate and pre-paid in advance.