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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. 

Why Are They Hesitant About Mediation?

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. 

Scenario 1: They’re unfamiliar with the process. 

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. 

Divorce Mediation Overview

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!

Scenario 2: They’re angry and want an attorney.

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. 

Scenario 3: They think they can DIY divorce.

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 this final installment, we cover preparing for the divorce process.

Attitude is everything when it comes to divorce

First, adopt the right mindset. The more open minded and prepared you are, the more smoothly your divorce will go. Get clear on your priorities post divorce and if at any time,you waiver or are unsure of how to continue, your priorities will help guide you to the post divorce life you envisioned.

Pick the best divorce team

Secondly, assemble the right divorce team. A DIY bookcase assembly is one thing and a DIY divorce is a whole other thing entirely. Divorce professionals include mediators, mortgage lenders, Certified Divorce Real Estate Experts aka CDREs, therapists, divorce coaches, attorneys, tax professionals and Certified Divorce Financial Planners or CDFPs. Divorce professionals know how to cut through the noise and keep the process moving smoothy.

Interview divorce professionals using the following questions:

  1. How do you work with other divorce professionals? Do you already have partnerships in place?
  2. When I email or call, how soon can I expect a response?
  3. May I call some of your references?
  4. How should I prepare for meetings?
  5. Is there anything I can do to keep my costs down?
  6. What is included in the cost of your services?

Seeking a divorce professional with a compatible personality is important since it shapes the kind of interaction they have with your spouse and other divorce professionals. If you bring in a strong arm attorney, they will approach your divorce in a combative, reactive way. If your goal is a peaceful resolution, select a mediator who shares this goal.

Your team also extends to family and friends who are supportive and want to help you through this difficult transition. There is nothing weak about reaching out for help. Like Barbara Streisand sang, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."

When assembling your divorce team, consider calling on mediators and certified divorce financial planners (CDFPs) early to help you sort out your finances while keeping in mind your desire to minimize conflict. After all, while the marriage has ended, the FAMILY continues.

Assess Your Finances

Now that you have your mindset and your "team" in place, choose the divorce option that aligns with your priorities and preserves your assets. It is important to bring about the end the marriage but with a focus on rebuilding your life.

To rebuild financially, you need to take inventory. As a general rule, save logins and passwords, download as many documents as you can find to a flash drive, keep 3-6 months of pay stubs, two years of tax returns, and your most recent retirement and investment account statements.

Order a copy of your credit report. You may be surprised at what it reveals. You may order a FREE copy at annualcreditreport.com

Finally, remember the 4 C's from The ABC’s of Divorce for Women by Ginita Wall and Carol Ann Wilson.

Careful - You are making decisions during divorce that have long lasting consequences. Proceed carefully by asking questions, getting clarification and relying on a team of divorce professionals.

Cognizant - It is easy to want to bury your head in the sand during stressful life transitions, but you need to keep yourself open minded and clear headed during divorce.

Centered - In addition to self-care, being centered means that you are focused on what your post divorce life will look like. Don't allow a petty argument over a household item to derail your mindset.

Courageous - Many spouses, in an effort to lower stress or make their children happy, put their priorities and needs on the back burner. Resist the urge to "go with the flow" and advocate for yourself.

As a reminder, in "The Devil's in the Divorce Details" we have covered:

Click on any of the above segments to view the video and associated blog post.

If you, or someone you know, is contemplating divorce, please share these articles with them. To book a complimentary 20 minute phone call with one of our divorce experts, book here.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Forms include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

In this post, we cover the divorce options in Colorado. Your choice include a do-it-yourself or DIY divorce, divorce mediation, a collaborative divorce and traditional divorce involving an attorney,

Option 1: Do it Yourself Divorce

The first option is a DIY or do it yourself divorce. You may also hear “pro se” or “kitchen table divorce.” This kind of divorce requires that you download and file the divorce forms yourself. The cost is $250 plus the time it takes to complete the documents.  A DIY divorce is best suited to marriages that were short in duration, where the couple owns few assets and has no children. 

The advantages are that you can keep your privacy, only the fact that you’re divorced becomes public knowledge, while any details remain between the parties. The other obvious advantage is affordability when compared to a traditional divorce that can cost between $10,000-$30,000. 

The disadvantages of a DIY divorce, if things go south, will negate the cost benefit.  If either party misses something or complete the forms incorrectly, one or both of you will incur costs trying to fix mistakes. Or, if one party fails to uphold promises made in the divorce documents, they are not legally binding so you cannot use the courts or an attorney to enforce the issue. In a DIY divorce you can hire a divorce or family law attorney to review your documents at a rate that varies between $150-$250/hr.  The cost to review would be a limited scope legal service. Look for attorneys who offer “unbundled services” as they complete tasks on an a la carte basis. Another drawback of a DIY marriage is that the forms fail to take into account what a post divorce financial reality will look like. 

Option 2: Divorce Mediation 

The second divorce option in Colorado is divorce mediation. Divorce mediation occurs when both parties agree that the marriage is over and they are committed to coming to an agreement. Both parties are free to consult with an attorney but the mediator is the one who works to bring the parties to a consensus to ensure a post divorce peace can be achieved. Divorce mediators come from a variety of backgrounds. In Colorado, they don’t have to pass a test or have a certification to be in business. Look for a mediator with experience, both in the number of mediations they have performed but also consider their background in family law, psychology or financial expertise. If you’re lucky, your mediation team will bring all of these elements to the table. The mediator works to ensure the settlement agreement is based on the family’s sense of fairness. 

The advantages of divorce mediation are affordability, privacy, less stress and your ability to control the outcome. The cost of divorce mediation ranges between 5,000-10,000. Settlement agreements remain private, as do the particulars of said agreements. Contested divorces or divorces that become contentious and lead both parties to seek their own attorneys are stressful for the children as one side seeks to eek out a win against the other. Having control over the direction of your divorce correlates to less animosity. After all, you were a participant, so if you objected to something, you had the opportunity to do so in mediation. 

The disadvantages of divorce mediation occur when you select a mediator who does not do their due diligence or is inexperienced. If one party has agreed to mediate but has a very difficult personality, seek a mediator who has experience with conflict resolution or dealing with difficult people. 

Option 3: Collaborative Divorce

The third divorce option is the collaborative divorce model. Deb Johnson of Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado and other divorce professionals helped pioneer this approach in Colorado twenty years ago. Collaborative divorce includes a team of four professionals. The first two are collaboratively trained attorneys chosen by each spouse. You will want to search for “attorneys in Colorado and collaborative law” The third team member is a financial professional with experience dividing assets, calculating future earnings and knowledge of divorce tax implications. The fourth team member is the mediator. The collaborative divorce process is needs based vs. the adversarial approach of a traditional divorce. There is full financial disclosure by both parties as the team works to gather, organize and manage the needs of both parties. 

On the plus side, a collaborative approach is bringing together the most expertise to the process than a traditional divorce. In a traditional legal model you have the parties, an attorney and possibly a judge. Unless they are the rare exception, neither the judge nor attorneys are experts in the financial realities of divorce. A collaborative divorce is an option where there are tough issues involved but both parties realize that experts can help resolve some of the financial and emotional hurdles. 

The disadvantages of a collaborative approach is that it costs more than mediation and DIY. Estimates vary but 10-20k is a range depending on the issues and time required to resolve them. All four divorce professionals have varying rates and need to be compensated for their time and expertise, driving up the cost. The timeline is longer than DIY or divorce mediation so expect six months to a year to complete the collaborative process. 

At the onset, the attorneys and their clients sign an agreement that if collaborative divorce cannot be reached, everyone walks away and continues the divorce in a traditional or litigation model. This agreement operates as an incentive to continue to work collaboratively less you lose money and time. 

Option 4: A Traditional Divorce

The fourth way to become divorced in Colorado is via the traditional model. Despite the threat of a spouse saying, “I’ll see you in court.” more than 95%  of divorces don’t end up in courtroom but are settled outside of court. The traditional divorce model is the pathway when one party does not agree to divorce. The divorce is contested which rules out the ability to go with the other three options. 

Disadvantages of a traditional divorce

The disadvantages of a traditional divorce are numerous. There is the cost of retaining an expensive divorce attorney. There is the public reveal of the particulars of your divorce. All parties are subject (read: at the whim of) the timelines and schedules of attorney and judges. There is no collaboration but instead an atmosphere of win or lose, take or be taken. People who are not experts in psychology or finance are the final arbiters of settlement agreement, maintenance and parenting plans. The timeline to completion ranges from a minimum of six months to a few years. If one of the attorneys misses something or is inexperienced it will cost more to hire another attorney to fix the problem. The issues are prioritized by an attorney even if the divorce stays out of court and if it goes to court, the issues are further streamlined to ensure ONLY the most pressing ones are worthy of the court’s time.   

Advantage of a traditional divorce

The main advantage of a traditional divorce is when one or both parties is unlikely to cooperate or keep a promise, the heavy hand of the law will enforce any agreements. Some people need court enforced boundaries and calls to act properly. 

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado employs certified divorce financial analysts, a psychologist and divorce coach. All of our mediators are well versed with the collaborative law approach and with working with difficult personalities. 

It’s important to know all of the divorce options available so you can make an informed and empowered choice that aligns with your family’s unique situation. In our complimentary 20-minute consultation, clients explain their situation and we can recommend ways to move forward.  We invite you to call us at (303) 468-5626 or schedule a time to talk. 

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

Sharing the same square footage 24/7 can either bring couples closer together or exacerbate already existing problems that were simmering just below the surface. If you find yourself in the latter camp, how do you begin to even investigate your divorce options?

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado is committed to helping families divorce peacefully, preserve their assets and create a stronger post divorce family. We're prepared to answer your questions, with or without a pandemic thrown into the mix.

Should I divorce during a global pandemic?

You're running through a litany of questions related to what divorce will mean for you, your spouse, your children and your finances. In light of the unstable economy, you may worry about how to survive on one salary or worse, none if you become, or were already furloughed or laid off.

Our wealth of experience has led us to two questions we believe spouses must answer before they call an attorney or seek the assistance of a divorce mediator.

We delve into these in much more depth in a separate blog post but they bear repeating here.

  1. Do you both want the divorce?
  2. Are you both peacefully and respectfully able to begin the divorce process?

If the answer to BOTH of these questions is a resounding yes, there is no reason you can't start the divorce process during COVID19.

If the answer to either question is unclear, we still recommend you consider what your post divorce life should look like. There's no harm in preparation that takes into account your guiding principles. For example, if you value stability in all matters, you intend for the children stay in their current home.

There is a lot of ground to cover in the divorce preparation process and that's how the role of a divorce coach came into being. We can't say it much better than the ABA, "divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future" Luckily for us, and you, Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado's Suzanne Chambers Yates is a Certified Divorce Coach. 

Based on our experience, we created a divorce checklist on the bottom of our website's home page that encapsulates many of these pre-divorce considerations.

To get crystal clear about your priorities, write them out and be as specific as possible. If you wrote, "to have enough money to pay a mortgage or monthly rent" that makes sense, but have you considered whether your post divorce budget will include the money to continue your children's extra curricular activities?

We also recommend you complete an inventory of your valuable household items with the help of our Household Inventory Worksheet found at the bottom of this page.

The financial aspects of the divorce, which are just as important as the emotional, will be explored in two upcoming video segments on 5/22/20 and 5/29/20 on our page's Facebook Live.

Prepare how you will talk to your spouse and the children about divorce

Before you can answer the two questions above, you must have the tough conversation. Thinking through your "divorce talk" approach is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire divorce process. If you need advice on how to prepare, mediators and divorce coaches have the experience and are committed to a peaceful resolution. Compare this to an attorney who is ultimately concerned with the dissolution of the marriage and achieving the best outcome for the spouse who hired them.

As hard as it may be, you must be ready to listen to what your spouse wants. The conversation will be trying but it cannot be a monologue where you list out all the reasons your marriage should end.

We are available for a 20 minute complimentary phone consultation where we hear your specific situation and let you know about your divorce options.

We also offer a 90 minute session (in person or over video conference) with both parties to dive deeper into our holistic process and preview post divorce outcomes. You will walk away, or step away from your computer in the age of Zoom, being empowered and informed.

If you have other concerns, we can be reached at (303) 468-5626.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

Kate and Andrew came in for a consultation.  Apparently Andrew convinced Kate to come to the meeting "just to gather information." Quickly it became clear that the topic of divorce had JUST been communicated to Kate. Without having the time to process, potentially seek counseling or meet with a divorce coach, Kate became filled with fear and rushed out to hire a lawyer.  More than a year and thousands of dollars in attorney's fees later, they were finally divorced.  Now, the children are in therapy and Kate and Andrew can only communicate via a smart phone app called "Talking Parents."  This outcome is unfortunate and unnecessary; and it shows the importance of proper preparation.

The two questions you need to answer before beginning the divorce process:

1) Do You and Your Spouse Both Want a Divorce?

If either of you is a no, it may not be the right time as beginning the process when the prospect of divorce is fresh is not a way to encourage meaningful communication. 

Have you thought through how to start the conversation?  It’s important because it sets the tone going forward. Figure out what your post divorce life will look like. Take the time to write it out. Work with the other person to decide on a date, time, a neutral location and ensure your children are out of earshot. 

Often, when couples begin the divorce process they are not really ready for the divorce and this has the potential for an acrimonious divorce.

Alternatively, let’s say you want the divorce, but you are still questioning whether you can salvage the relationship.  Wait until you feel the most analytical and not emotional and write out all the reasons.

In another scenario, maybe you don’t want the divorce but your spouse does. Make sure to remove any rose colored glasses and that the reality of the state of your marriage is not obscured by your hurt or fear. 

2) Are You and Your Spouse Able to Peacefully and Respectfully Enter Mediation?

Both of you will never get to mediation if one or both of you doesn’t understand what mediation is and is not and what the process entails. 

What is mediation? You and your soon to be ex spouse decide the outcome of your divorce, not the court or an attorney. Mediators are the neutral third party who are trained in facilitating a solution that will serve both spouses’ needs. Rather than a judge, the spouses are in control of the outcome. Mediation is significantly less expensive than choosing the traditional attorney route and because the objective is not to win but to come to a mutual agreement. Mediation 

What does the mediation process entail? 

Understand the logistics and timing of mediation – how many sessions will it take and how long will each session last? Remember to ask these questions in your consultation call. Any mediator who is worth considering is willing to educate you on the process and address your questions.  

You might want to know what items are up for division or dispute. Have the facts to back up what things are worth. 

Once you both understand what it is and what it entails, only then can you both affirmatively agree that mediation is the best choice for your post divorce family. 

Make sure what you have in mind for your post divorce future is concrete and not emotional. Mediation is not the time to rehash the same old arguments you had that led you into mediation in the first place. 

Whereas the conversation where you decide to divorce is best done in person (discussed more in #1) If you are more comfortable with the written word, write a letter or email to explain what you’ve learned about mediation.   

Before you step into the mediator’s office think about preparing:

·     A list of your concerns

·     Potential solutions to your concerns

·     Questions

·     A list of assets, debts, and valuable personal property

·     Financial documents needed to make decisions and substantiate values

Before you schedule a 90 initial consultation, be sure to have answers to whether both of you want a divorce and whether you both understand what mediation entails and that you’re entering it without a hidden agenda. 

The staff at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado are prepared to answer your questions. You can reach us at (303) 468-5626.

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.

Where: Live on Divorce Resource Centre's Facebook page and later posted to individual blog posts and Youtube.

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

Resources: 

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

A home full of clutter, keepsakes and accumulated possessions can be overwhelming to anyone but when you’re faced with divorce it can be paralyzing. You have essentially four options: toss, keep, sell or donate. This blog post helps you know what items you need to toss.  

Can the Item Be Repaired? 

Only toss items that cannot be repaired by you or easily by someone else who knows what they are doing. If the current value is less than the cost of repairing it, then toss and replace. 

Most Likely to Be Tossed

UPOs (unidentified plastic objects) get 30 days. If they're still a mystery one month later, into the trash they go. Examples that come to mind can be found in the closet of almost any child’s room or in a kitchen junk drawer.

It’s Paper but you Can Digitize it. Throw away old receipts you don’t need for tax day or for items you’re not returning. Then scan the rest or take pictures with your smartphone of the receipts, bills, and other financial papers, and store them in cyberspace.

Expired Medicines

In Colorado, you can visit these medication take back locations. If there’s no drop off near you, do not flush medications down the toilet as it can affect the water supply. Instead, follow these steps before medicine hits the trashcan: 

Items That Usually Get Tossed but Shouldn’t

“No More Wire Hangers!” If you’ve seen Mommy Dearest, you know just how frightening these can be. Instead of tossing hangers, take them to your local dry cleaners. They will save money from not having to buy as many new ones and you keep them out of the landfill. 

Magazines: If they are recent, within the last year, donate magazines to your local library or take them to a nursing home. Making vision boards has become very popular so post magazines on NextDoor, Craigslist or Facebook marketplace for free so these items can find new owners. 

Craft Supplies: Rather than toss these, you can post for free on the aforementioned websites or contact a school’s art program, daycare or after school program to see if they can use them. 

Stained or torn clothing: Use solo socks for dusting, especially between blinds and for ceiling fan blades. Items that are soft and absorbent also work well as cleaning rags. 

Future blog posts from the Divorce Resource Center will cover with what items to keep, sell, and donate. Stay tuned for more helpful tips and suggestions for your post divorce life.  

ABOUT
At Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we have a team of seasoned Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA) who provide a cost-effective, respectful mediation process that allows couples and families to rebuild a secure post-divorce future.
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