October was conflict resolution month in Colorado, and as the month comes to a close we’d like to discuss how the out-of-court approach to divorce and separation assists with conflict management and produces more positive outcomes for parents and children.

Why mediation?

Mediation has been shown to be an effective way to resolve conflict as an alternative to litigation in divorce proceedings. Studies have found that parents who sought mediation were better able to co-parent, resolve conflict at home, and stay more actively involved in their children’s lives, compared with those who litigated.*

When to seek help? 

The out-of-court model is most successful in cases where we get involved at the earliest possible point, because couples may not have the wounds that can come with having come into high conflict with each other. If divorcing parents come to the Center early, before conflict escalates, effective decision making and problem solving are more likely.

That said, it is never too late to seek help to mitigate the negative impacts this life event can have on you and your children. No matter where you are in your process, COCD can help, even if your divorce is already finalized and you are seeking post-decree services and support.

Once we’re involved – what does it look like?

At COCD, we are often asked if we’re only an option for couples seeking a “friendly divorce,” meaning both parents must get along and agree on decisions before coming to us. Not only is this assumption untrue, but we have a dedicated, interdisciplinary staff that is here to help divorcing parents sort through their conflict, and come to decisions together that are in the best interest of their children as they move forward with this transition.

Everyone on our staff is a trained mediator and certified professional. What this means is that a team of mediators (which includes an attorney mediator and a clinical specialist) conduct the sessions, which are broken out to address things like budget planning and co-parenting individually. We provide as many sessions as it takes to resolve the issues specific to that case. However, we have found that our pre-mediation therapeutic services can significantly reduce the number of mediation sessions needed because issues get identified and addressed early, prior to starting mediation.  

Whether it’s a social worker leading a therapy session or an attorney mediator reviewing your paperwork with you, our COCD staff members combine their unique skills and experience to deliver a comprehensive, coordinated package customized to address the specific needs of your family. Each case is assigned a consistent team of staff members who know your family’s specific concerns and challenges and will be there to help you navigate the process every step of the way.

*Source: Emery, RE. Renegotiating family relationships: Divorce, child custody, and mediation. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2011.

Denise Breinig-Glunz , COCD clinical director & Ellen Weston Squires, COCD attorney-mediator

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