Articles Posted in Divorce Procedures in Coloardo

By Jennifer L. Hochstein, Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

What is the purpose of mediation?

During the process of a divorce proceeding or allocation of parental responsibilities parties are required to participate in mediation prior to attending a contested final orders hearing. Parties may also be required to mediate due to post decree issues, such as a modification of parenting time or if a contempt is filed. Some parties may agree at the time of their divorce that any future issues must be mediated first prior to either party filing a Motion with the Court. There are few exceptions to when parties will not be required to mediate, but these exceptions are rare. The court requires mediation as a way to assist parties in making their own agreements and to ultimately avoid contested hearings.
How do I schedule mediation?

The mediation process typically lasts two hours. Mediation can be scheduled with a private mediator which are often times family law attorneys in private practice or attorneys who previously practiced in family law. Mediation can also be scheduled through the Office of Dispute Resolution which is located in the basement of the courthouse. There are fees associated with mediation and those depend on the amount of time for the mediation and which mediator is selected. Mediators are to act as a neutral third party and do not represent the interests of either party.

What should I do to prepare?

The best way to prepare for mediation is to review your sworn financial statement and prepare a proposed parenting plan, if applicable. Reviewing your sworn financial statement will allow you to recognize which assets and debts will need to be discussed during mediation. A proposed parenting plan will be helpful for the mediator to review to understand what you are requesting in terms of parenting time. The mediator can assist you in determining child support by reviewing the child support guideline with you. Lastly, go into mediation with an open mind and the understanding that to reach an agreement both parties will need to compromise.

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By: Haily Kolberg, Esq.*

You should never need to be an expert in divorce. That’s our job.

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Specifically, The Gasper Law Group will help navigate you through this challenging time by offering candid, straightforward and honest legal advice that will enable you to make informed decisions on the handling of your case. While we are fierce advocates in the courtroom, you may find yourself taking advantage of our negotiation and settlement strategies that sometimes avoids the courtroom altogether. We pride ourselves on our ability to fully analyze a case and offer you real legal advice based on your unique facts and circumstances. Whether you are in the middle of a divorce and desire an attorney with a fresh approach or whether you are at the very beginning of the legal process, below is a brief run-through of how the process works generally.

The first stage is the pleading or filing stage in which a Petition for Dissolution (with or without children) is filed with the court as well as a response from the opposing party. Although the Court offers boilerplate forms to initiate a divorce, we have seen our fair share of clean-up projects in which we have had to amend pleadings to assert or defend against claims or requested relief (child support, spousal maintenance, military retirement division). Sometimes the ship has sailed and it’s impossible or extremely expensive to right the wrong or omission from the original pleadings. If nothing else, an attorney can provide the reasonable buffer between the filing party and the opposing party. After all, some comfort or level of protection in challenging times is warranted by simply telling your ex, “you should call my attorney because I don’t want to talk about this.”
The next stage involves assembling documents and financial data prior to the very next stage, an Initial Status Conference or Court Facilitator meeting. This is more of a meeting than a hearing, where deadlines for your case are set so the Court knows your case will move along. The average divorce case in Colorado Springs takes over 4 months depending on the assigned division and the court’s docket. More complex cases involving experts or hotly contested issues result in longer case duration and can last for several months or a full year after filing. The quickest a divorce can be completed is 91 days (Colorado recognizes a statutory 90-day cooling off period). At the Status Conference, the Court may set additional deadlines in the event the parties have not completed the disclosure and financial exchange process.

In some case, informal or formal discovery is necessary. Discovery is the process of collecting evidence by way of subpoena, depositions, written interrogatories (questions to be answered under oath). Disclosures (discussed above) are required and must conform to the court’s orders and standard rules of procedure. Discovery on the other hand is initiated at the request of either party. Rest assured, discovery can be managed by the parties with the court being available to resolve any discovery or disclosure disputes.

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The Gasper Law Group

At some point in any Domestic Relations case you will hear the term “Notice to Set”. Majority of the time, people do not understand what a Notice to Set is. In Colorado, the Courts require ten days advance notice before any hearing gets set on their docket. A Notice to Set is the document that notifies all parties, ten days in advance, that one party is going to call in to the designated Division on a certain date and time to schedule a hearing. If you are the requesting party, you must send a copy of the Notice to Set to all other parties to notify them of your intent to set a hearing so they can participate in the setting if they choose.
Each Division has specific setting days and times. So the Notice to Set will designate a setting date and time that is allowed by the assigned division. For example, one division may do their settings on Tuesday or Wednesday and another on Monday or Thursday. On the day of the setting, the requesting party will call in to the assigned division, at the designated time, to speak with the Court Clerk and obtain possible hearing dates that are available on the Court’s docket. Each division varies on how they choose to include the other party in the setting. They will either conference call the other party and coordinate a hearing with both parties at the same time, or they will give the requesting party possible dates and the requesting party is responsible for coordinating with the other party. Once all parties have agreed on a hearing date, the Court Clerk will assign the task of preparing the Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing will specify your actual hearing date.

Lastly, when you receive a Notice to Set in the mail, be sure to read it closely. It will state directly on the Notice that the setting date is not a hearing and your attendance is not required. If you are represented, your attorney will contact you with the actual hearing date once it is set.