The Legal Process - Will a Hearing be Necessary?
WILL A HEARING BE NECESSARY?
Colorado courts usually require a hearing in a dissolution or post-dissolution
matter for one of two reasons: (1) where the parties are unable
to resolve the issues in their case such as parenting time or asset
division, or (2) where one or both of the parties is not represented
by an attorney and the couple has children.
Looking at these reasons together, it is notable that a divorcing
couple can almost certainly avoid a hearing if they are able to
agree on the issues in their divorce or if they have children, retain
attorneys for representation. Even if the couple does not have attorneys
and they have children, if they have agreement on all issues, the
hearing the required hearing will likely take only fifteen to twenty
minutes. The main purpose of such a hearing is to allow the judge
to review the parties’ parenting plan, property settlement,
and child support provisions.
Thus, you should focus on resolving the primary issues in your
case, such as: (1) how decisions regarding the children will be
made, (2) how the parents will divide time with their children,
(3) how your assets and debts will be divided, and (4) whether one
of the parties will pay maintenance to the other.
There are many ways to arrive at an agreement on these issues.
One method is direct negotiation between the parties. An advantage
of direct negotiation is that it does not involve the expense of
attorneys to do the negotiation, or the cost of a third party neutral,
such as a mediator, to help create an agreement. Disadvantages of
direct negotiations include the fact that because the parties are
divorcing, their communication may not be up to the task of dealing
with emotionally sensitive or legally complex issues. Additionally,
since the parties likely have limited knowledge of the law, they
may not know whether the agreement they reach is fair and protective
of their individual rights.
Using a mediator, particularly a mediator who is also an attorney,
is useful for providing the information necessary to determine whether
an agreement will meet the fairness standards the court will apply.
Because mediators usually have experience with many divorces, the
mediator can also help divorcing couples create solutions to issues
they may be having trouble negotiating.
Retaining attorneys will also address the fairness issue, and will
provide the parties with information about their rights in divorce.
Using both attorneys and a mediator may be helpful in the same divorce,
where the parties want to be certain their rights are protected,
but also want direct involvement in the negotiation.
The key to limiting whether a hearing or hearings will be necessary,
therefore, is negotiating an agreement the parties can live with,
rather than leaving it up to the court. Using either a mediator,
or attorneys, or both, should limit the likelihood a hearing will
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