This is the second blog post in a two-part series. In the first Understanding the Out-of-Court Divorce Model post, Judge Larry Naves walks through the steps taken during a final orders hearing. Below, he explains the benefits of completing a final orders hearing outside of the courtroom.
COCD: What makes final orders hearings at COCD different from a traditional courtroom?
Judge Naves: At COCD, I make the same record and go through the same steps as I would in a courtroom. The difference is that it does not take place in a public courtroom, which can be cold, impersonal and intimidating. Parties are typically not as intimidated when they come to the Center. Mediators come into the hearing with their clients, so the parties are with familiar faces. COCD offers a more intimate and more private atmosphere. I think people feel comfortable having a process that allows them to work out problems and issues and then have the final portion occur in same setting. It’s more comforting, more relaxing, and alleviates some of the stress.
COCD: Since you also work in alternative dispute resolution, can you tell us about the benefits of mediation?
Judge Naves: One great benefit of mediation is that you know the outcome when you go to the final permanent orders hearing. If you’re in court it means that you haven’t been able to resolve all your differences, and that the judge will hear your argument and then he or she makes the decisions. Whereas when you go into hearing at COCD, you’ve worked it out. You sat down with your significant other, your spouse, or co-parent and you’ve worked out the differences that you have. And you don’t have the suspense of presenting evidence and then having a judge decide. You take all of that out of the equation when you mediate.
COCD: How would you compare a permanent orders hearing in court versus at the Center to someone who has never been through the process?
Judge Naves: For parties who choose not to mediate – by hiring lawyers or going pro se (self-representing), for example – it’s adversarial. The process is set up for winners and losers and you just don’t have that when you’ve mediated the tough issues like they do at the Center. You’ve got a separation agreement that you’ve signed off on. It’s a wonderful process because you know the outcome, there are no issues left undecided, and we don’t rush you through the hearing.
If I don’t have parties mediating and come to a hearing where nothing has been resolved – that really is a totally different process. Imagine me, a judge, deciding appropriate parenting time with children based upon hearing adversarial arguments and compare that with the parties sitting down with COCD’s attorney mediator and staff and working through that themselves.
And in the Denver Metro area especially, family court judges have a couple hundred cases on their docket. There’s just no way you have the time or can afford to give parties all of the time they may want to have in court. When you have a system that we have with so many cases and limited resources, there have to be limits on the process.
COCD: What advice do you have for separating parents who are struggling with how to proceed with their divorce?
Judge Naves: It’s important to note that not everyone can mediate. It has to do with the relationship of the parties and cases don’t always fit mediation. But if people can talk and reason with each other, with the help of professional guidance, and act in the best interest of their children, COCD is an ideal option. COCD offers a professional approach to mediating dissolution of marriage for people with children. The Center’s staff can devote as much time as needed to work out the most simple to the most complex problems. That’s what they do, and they do a great job of it. They eliminate the risk of having a contested permanent orders hearing. COCD can devote more time, energy, and expertise than almost any alternative, and at a reasonable price.
To get more information or start the out-of-court divorce process, contact the COCD at 720-608-3052.