What is alternative dispute resolution?

When you and your spouse divorce in Colorado, you need not engage in the traditional litigated divorce. You have other available options, known as alternative dispute resolution, for achieving a more amicable divorce.

Your main alternative dispute resolution options consist of mediation and collaboration. Both are out-of-court processes during which you and your spouse negotiate together to resolve your own issues such as the following:

  • Child custody, support and visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Property division

While these two processes are similar, Greenbush Financial explains that they have two major differences.


If you choose mediation, neither you nor your spouse need to hire an attorney, although you have every right to do so and it may turn out to be a good idea. Instead, the two of you hire a neutral professional to act as your guide and referee during your divorce negotiations. The three of you then hold as many meetings as necessary for you and your spouse to resolve your issues and arrive at an agreed-upon custody arrangement, parenting plan, property settlement agreement, etc. Your mediator will ensure that neither of you runs roughshod over the other or intimidates the other in any manner. (S)he cannot, however, force either of you to produce documents or anything else.


If you choose collaboration, you and your spouse each hire your own attorney, but those attorneys do not view themselves or their clients; i.e., you and your spouse, as adversaries. Rather, they view all four of you as collaborators whose mission it is to arrive at divorce agreements that do not compromise either of you. Similar to mediation, the collaboration process involves a series of meetings among all four of you where you and your spouse make your own decisions. But if, for instance, your spouse refuses to produce necessary documents, your attorney can serve your spouse’s attorney with the discovery papers routinely served in a litigated divorce.

The foregoing does not constitute legal advice; rather, we present it as educational information about the divorce alternatives available to you.

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