You and your spouse have agreed to divorce but not on how to get there. You want divorce mediation but they remain unconvinced that it is the best choice. How do you move forward with the divorce?
The answer depends on WHY they are hesitant about mediation, IF they can be transparent and WHETHER they are willing to compromise.
We’ll explore each of these factors and provide advice based on your answers to the questions below.
Scenario 1: They’re unfamiliar with the process.
Scenario 2: They’re angry and don’t want to do what you’ve selected. Angry people want to win and hurt the other person in the process.
Scenario 3: They want a DIY divorce to save money paying a mediator or an attorney.
It is actually pretty common to be unfamiliar with divorce mediation. After all, we’ve grown up on a TV diet where we’re served images of hard-nosed attorneys going head to head, saying things like “Not on my watch” and “We’re going to make them pay!” and we resign to the fact that divorce attorneys exist for a reason. If you didn’t need them, why would they even practice that kind of law, right?
There are many ways to familiarize someone with divorce mediation. One way is to find a friend or friend of a friend who has used a divorce mediator and ask them if they’d be willing to talk about their experience. Another way is to ask your spouse to call a divorce mediator who offers a free consultation and come prepared with questions. You can also learn a lot by reading articles and watching videos. We’ve written about the different divorce options in Colorado and have videos about divorce mediation that can help.
The 50,000 foot view is this: Divorce mediation works when spouses can work well together. Each spouse agrees to fully disclose their finances and work towards an agreement about property, parenting plans and what they want their post-divorce lives to look like. Your mediator is a neutral, third party who helps both of you come to consensus and stay out of the courts and avoid costly legal battles. Divorce mediation may also involve financial experts, therapists and divorce coaches. At DRCC, our team members hold the following titles: CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, Psychotherapist, Mediator and Divorce Coach. We’ve got you covered!
To them, an attorney = they come out ahead. After all, divorce attorneys charge $350-$600/hour so they will work hard to make sure your spouse prevails. In a scenario like this, you and your soon to be ex may need to work with a therapist, together or separately or both to help resolve these feelings before proceeding with the divorce. This is not about “striking while the iron is hot” but “waiting until cooler heads prevail.” Angry people don’t make the best decisions and hiring an expensive attorney and dragging your personal affairs into a courtroom will = more conflict which = more money spent.
One exception is if the spouse who is angry is also abusive. Divorce mediation is not suited to a dynamic where one party has and wants to exert control. A collaborative divorce or traditional divorce would better serve you both.
Blame it on Pinterest or HGTV, but many people think they can cobble together a table, so why not a divorce? A DIY divorce CAN work if you do not have any children and few assets. Filing your own divorce CAN work for cooperative parties who have come to a consensus about what to do about x, y, and z; and their only difficulty is navigating the paperwork.
We have worked with couples whose situation seemed suited to a DIY divorce but later issues arose and they needed a third party to flesh out issues and make the agreements enforceable.
Hiring an attorney is not only costly due to their high hourly rate but also because of the length of the average Colorado divorce of 6-12 months, and that’s if you don't go to court. The DRCC works with couples who are motivated to complete the process in a limited number of mediation sessions. When you schedule your initial consultation and ultimately decide to hire us, we can apply the cost of the initial consultation to your account.
Our divorce mediation services are designed for couples who want peaceful resolutions and value transparency. If this describes your situation, divorce mediation may be the best pathway to your post-divorce life. Remember, the marriage may be over but the family goes on!
In June 2020 the unemployment rate in Colorado increased to 10.5%. Uncertainty around COVID-19 has contributed to this spike in layoffs and furloughs. The longer this continues, the more Coloradans will ask "How will job loss affect my divorce mediation?"
If you were laid off due to no fault of your own, mediators may adjust child or spousal support, but only temporarily. However, if the job loss was one party's fault, mediators may require the amount that was agreed upon while they were employed.
If the spouse who lost their job due to COVID is the lower-paid spouse, mediators may suggest that the employed spouse pay more support until their ex spouse is re-employed. The intention is to try and ascertain that both spouses are able to meet BOTHtheir needs during the period of unemployment.
Once the spouse who earned more is hired again, they will be responsible to pay an agreed upon percentage of their earned income. In Colorado, the calculation results from a statute effective January 1, 2014. There can be a provision in your mediated agreement that when rehiring happens, the parties' agree to revisit the support piece of the divorce with a qualified mediator.
Our advice for spouses who are laid off is to treat finding a job as a full-time job. Job searches should focus on a similar job with a comparable salary to the one lost, if possible. This is not the time to “find yourself” or go back to school, unless retraining is required.
Finally, job loss during mediation is not a spouse’s Ace in the Hole when it comes to calculating support payments. The laid off spouse needs to be transparent about any severance or payout package or company stock options they hold.
At Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we understand how stressful job loss is and how it can impact your ability to support yourself, your ex spouse, and your children. All parties in a mediation agree to transparency and this creates a level of communication rarely seen during divorce.
If your employment situation changes during divorce mediation, we adjust agreements and address what happens when either spouse is employed again. Call us at 303-468-5626 to discuss your particular situation with a 20 minute complimentary consultation.
The second installment in our “Devil’s in the Divorce Details” series focuses on the crucial question, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Our work is to examine and help couples solve the emotional and financial questions that arise with divorce. Whereas an attorney is working on behalf of one party in an effort to win the best outcome for them, we want the best outcome for the entire family. Financial and emotional factors cannot be compartmentalized and if approached that way, it could lead to an undesirable outcome for one or both spouses.
For instance, you LOVE the marital home. You shed blood, sweat, tears and a few cuss words creating a garden, painting all the walls and converting your basement into a place to paint and be creative. Deciding whether to stay in the marital home is colored by these emotions and also the financial reality of whether you can afford all of the maintenance and upkeep. If you look only at the associated costs and decide to sell, you will lose the pride and security you feel in your current home.
Only by asking questions can we determine that “unprepared” doesn’t mean that you don’t have your paperwork together, but that you’re not ready to deal with divorce emotionally. Or perhaps “unprepared” means you don’t know how to begin the conversation with your spouse. Divorce coaching can help with that. Acknowledge that usually “being ready” is a hurdle that you need to get clear about, and that there are divorce professionals if you need assistance.
Maybe you go to your friends for divorce help first. When they hear you say, “I’m not ready” they could offer objective advice like, “Here are the documents you should gather to understand your finances” They are confused why you seem frozen in place and don’t want to wade into your sea of emotions. Maybe talking about that is uncomfortable, brings up issues in their own lives or they don’t want to feel like they’re taking sides. Even if they help you sort out the emotional issues, unless they are also a financial advisor, chances are they won’t be able to assist you with that. Your friend’s duty is to just that, to be a friend and you shouldn’t expect them to function as your advisor.
“I’m just scared/worried” usually means you fear making the right decision. Is the fear personal or do you worry about your spouse’s reaction? Or are you reluctant to end the marriage because you think you should try harder to stay married? If it’s the latter, you may want to try counseling or find a new counselor. Understand that you, and ONLY you, know if you are making the right decision for YOUR life.
What happens to the person who is “not ready? They bury their head in the sand and ignore the issue. Their health suffers and they continue living a half full life.
What happens to the spouse who “scared?” They might make hasty decisions out of fear and experience unintended consequences.
Our divorce coach, psychologist and certified mediator, Suzanne Chambers Yates has created an acronym BEYOND to help you move forward so you are emotionally prepared for divorce.
For the second hurdle, not being financially prepared, it’s important to run through all the possible scenarios with a trusted, experienced financial advisor. DRCC's certified divorce financial analysts will scrutinize every area where money is concerned.
If you don’t want to give up the marital home, can you maintain it? Not only physically, but will you need to hire help or are you committed to doing it yourself? What stage are you at in life? Do you need to stay in a 2 story home with 4 bedrooms when it is just you? If the mortgage is much cheaper than moving to another single level residence, can you still afford all the associated costs like homeowner’s insurance?
You won’t be able to stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance so understand your options. Can you afford to get it on your own? Does your employer have a plan?
Children under 18: Can you support your children without a second income when your parenting time is Monday through Friday and your spouse has them every other weekend?
Divorce after 50: Unlike couples that divorce in their early 30’s, you don’t have 25-30 years to rebuild and feel secure in your retirement. “Silver divorce” is more complicated at this stage in life because you don’t have the luxury of “waiting for the market to rebound.”
We mentioned homeowners but there’s also car, life and disability. Most life insurance policies are revocable, meaning the policy owner may change the beneficiary at any time. If your ex spouse will be contributing a majority of money to your children, do you have a backup plan if something happens to them and their new spouse becomes the beneficiary?
DRCC’s owner Deb Johnson says that financial stress is one of the hardest types of stress to deal with. Her opinion is backed up by research. People with greater financial stress have more symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t financially stressed, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Anxiety, Coping and Stress. Source
Clients tell us that much of the ‘fear of the unknown’ is gone and they feel more empowered after they begin working with us.
The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado offers divorce financial analysis, divorce coaching and divorce mediation. Each family’s situation is unique and we offer two ways to take a step forward. The first is to schedule a complimentary 20 minute call or we can go into greater detail at our 90 minute initial consultation. Call 303 468-5626 to discuss.
Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.
Who: Divorce experts and financial planning professionals Deb Johnson and Suzanne Chambers Yates. Learn more about their experience here.
What: Frank conversations covering everything from "Do you Dare Divorce During COVID19?" to "How, When and What to Say to the Kids" and everything in between.
When: Every Friday beginning May 1st, 2020 at 2 PM MDT.
Installment 1: "Do I Dare Divorce During COVID19?" aired May 1, 2020
Installment 2: "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" aired May 8, 2020
Child Centered Pledge - Part of a peaceful resolution means recognizing that your child(ren) should be priority #1. Both spouses refer to this pledge for guidance in all matters related to their children.
Household Inventory Worksheet - When divvying up household items, make an inventory, note ownership and determine if anything is up for discussion