What happens when you bring together financial expertise and personal experience with divorce? You get Mandy Walker, our guest for this episode of Off the Fence. After going through her own difficult divorce Mandy switched careers from finance to divorce mediation. She now helps divorcing couples who want to end their divorce amicably through mediation do exactly that.
In this episode, Mandy explores the different types of mediation, the different types of mediators, and the way mediation really works. [HINT: It may not work the way you think it does!]
Mandy discusses the various ways you can work with an attorney in mediation and explains why mediation might not be the ideal choice for everyone.
This episode is a goldmine of information for anyone trying to navigate the murky waters of divorce and considering mediation.
Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.
Mandy’s first career was 20+ years working in financial services in customer service and operations. Of the many hats Mandy wore during that time, she was responsible for handling formal customer complaints and major service resolution issues giving her a solid foundation in dispute resolution.
With a change of career in mind, Mandy graduated in 2008 with a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing her journalism studies, Mandy and her husband of seventeen years divorced, and it was that experience that led to Mandy’s new career as a divorce professional.
Key Takeaways From This Episode with Mandy
- Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and certified divorce financial analyst based in Boulder, Colorado.
- She helps individuals and couples end their relationships with dignity and respect by guiding them through the divorce process and helping them understand their options.
- Mandy initially pursued a master's degree in journalism after burning out from 20+ years in financial services. She started blogging and interviewing others about their divorce experiences, which led her to become a divorce coach and mediator. Mandy chose mediation because it fit her skills in dispute resolution from her previous career. Colorado
- Mediation allows couples to reach agreements tailored to their situations, since divorce laws are not always black and white. Many people want a mediated approach to spend less and manage costs.
- Mandy advises getting legal advice on any areas of disagreement. Situations involving restricting parenting time, recent domestic violence, or substance abuse often require attorneys instead. Both parties must fully disclose finances to mediate property division.
- Mediation styles vary - some are just a few hours to meet court requirements, while others are a full process from start to finish. Attorneys often prefer attorney mediators. Mandy works with people without attorneys who want a mediated process.
- It's important for people to understand their options, like mediation, litigation, or collaborative divorce, and choose the best process for their situation. There's no one right way for every case. Her niche is the full process for couples without attorneys.
- Mandy recommends asking mediators or attorneys for a timeline so you understand the expected process and duration. It helps manage expectations.
- Visit mandywalker.com to learn more about Mandy's services.
Do you like what you've heard?
Share the love so more people can benefit from this episode too!
Divorce Mediation Isn't as Clear or as Easy as You Think
Mediation, finances, court, parenting
Karen Covy, Mandy Walker
Karen Covy Host00:10
Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can discover what keeps us stuck and, more importantly, how we can get unstuck and start making even tough decisions with confidence. I'm your host, Karen Covey, a former divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, turned coach, author and entrepreneur. And now, without further ado, let's get on with the show. With me today is my guest, Mandy Walker, and Mandy is a divorce mediator and certified divorce financial analyst. Based in Boulder, Colorado.
She works with individuals and couples, helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they're making. Mandy's first career was 20 plus years working in financial services and customer service and operations. Of the many hats Mandy wore during that time, she was responsible for handling formal customer complaints and major service resolution issues, giving her a solid foundation in dispute resolution. With a change of career in mind, Mandy graduated in 2008 with a master's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing her journalism studies, Mandy and her husband of 17 years divorced, and it was that experience that led to Mandy's new career as a divorce professional. Mandy, welcome to the show.
Mandy Walker Guest01:44
Thank you, Karen, I'm so excited to be here.
Karen Covy Host01:47
And I'm excited to have you. I mean you and I. We have known each other. For I won't even say how many years let's just say it's well over a decade, and I know that back in the day, we both blog together on divorced moms, right, and we each had our own blogs and you had a podcast. As a matter of fact, I think this is the first time I get to interview you instead of it being the other way around.
Mandy Walker Guest02:13
Yeah, it's not very often I'm sitting in this chair. I'm usually sitting in your chair, so I was thinking about this, that this morning.
Karen Covy Host02:23
And I am so excited for this interview, and I'd like to start by diving in just a little bit into your backstory. What made you decide to use your own divorce experience as a catalyst for career change?
Mandy Walker Guest02:39
Oh well, it was an evolution. I don't think that it was a conscious decision, but in your intro you said you know I had. When I left financial services, I was completely burned out. Honestly, I didn't think I could interview for a job. I didn't know anybody. I didn't think anybody wanted to employ me. It'd been a really hard slog and I had two young children. So that's what prompted I thought I'm just going to go back to school and do and I thought I'll do journalism. It sounds like fun and of course it was at a time when journalism was all changing.
But as part of that journalism course, I did several classes in digital media and that got me started on blogging and writing and I thought that I was going to write a book about everything I'd learned to do for the first time since my divorce. So all those things, like you know, I think about emptying, taking the dead mice out of the mouse traps and changing light bulbs, which sounds simple, but it's not, because everyone is a different fitting and that's a whole learning curve. But then I realized I didn't think that it was that interesting and I didn't have that much enough material to fill the book. So I started interviewing other people. And those conversations with other people quickly turned into a lot more meaningful conversations about what had happened during the marriage, what led to the divorce, what they'd learned now and that's what I used for my blog since my divorce.com to share other people's stories about their journeys and what they had learned.
And then that kind of materialized into doing some in-person coaching locally. And then I thought, well, if I'm looking at revenue generating, I can't just be putts in round like this and not bringing in any money. So then I trained as a mediator and that's when I thought wait a minute, I've been mediating for 22 years. I could do this. This is just a different set of rules, yeah.
Karen Covy Host04:51
That's fascinating, but and what I think is so important for people to hear about your journey is that you know you got it. You were burned out, you were divorced, you wanted to start something new, but at some point the light bulb goes off and you said I have to make money at this right, and that's a whole different world.
Mandy Walker Guest05:13
Yeah, it is Right.
Karen Covy Host05:14
Absolutely. And I know that, like because you've been a coach as well, and a lot of people have these grand ideas because when you go through a divorce, it's a life change, right. So it kind of fits to change your career as well, especially if you've been burned out at the same time. So many of my clients say, well, I'm going to go, you know, get educated and X and become X, right, whatever it is, and that's great. But really, once you're responsible for bringing in money to support yourself and your children, you've really got to look at whether X not only whether it's what you want to do and will be fulfilling, but does it bringing cash because you need it.
Mandy Walker Guest05:59
And during that time, when I was starting on coaching and mediation, I was also working part-time in a couple of different capacities, so I did have some other revenue stream. Yeah Was bringing things in which I think you have to do.
Karen Covy Host06:16
Right. I mean, for better or for worse, you just look at what you've got and you start to cobble together some sort of like you said an income stream. I know the traditional way is you go, you get a job and that your paycheck becomes your income stream. But for someone who wants to do something different, sometimes it's more of a matter of saying, okay, I'll make some money doing this, some money doing that, and you cobble together an income stream from a variety of sources. It sounds like that's what you did.
Mandy Walker Guest06:47
Well, the other driving factor to me was at the time that I divorced, my kids were 11 and 14. I had worked full-time pretty much the entire ever since they were born and I decided what was really, really important to me was that I'd be home in the afternoon when they finished school, and during the time that I'd been working we'd had an au pair to help us. But I felt like au pairs don't teach your kids values. So for me, that was the thing is like how do I structure my career, my work and that so that I can be at home in the afternoon when my kids get home so I can help them with their homework and their activities? But then I've also generating some revenue. So that meant I had my part-time work in the morning, took care of the kids in the afternoon, and oftentimes I was like doing things in the evening or other times, weekends, and that to build the career that I now have.
Karen Covy Host07:52
That is so interesting, and you said something in there that I really want to hone in on, which is I decided that I wanted to be home with them, to teach them values, to be with them in the afternoon, did you? Was that just an intuitive decision or did you use any kind of a process to come to that conclusion of this is what matters to me, so this is how I'm going to structure my life.
Mandy Walker Guest08:16
It was really my own thought process there, because I would say just making sure that they got their homework done was important to me and providing them the structure. I mean to do that not in a I'm curious what my kids would say that was like not in a dictatorial way, but it's just like, okay, this is what has to get done, and just kind of keeping them on track, because I think it's a lot to manage and I'm very mindful like of kids who don't have that sort of support at home. They are so far behind the starting line with college and with exams. It's I feel for them. But it was important to me that I could do that for my kids.
In fact, the first year that I was, the summer that, the first summer I was divorced, I bought a KitchenAid stand mixer and I decided I'd make a different cake every week so my kids could have a different cake. And that took me back to my childhood, because we were latchkey kids. My parents both worked, but my mom, and that was before packaged foods and that. So my mom made. There was always cake and goodies at home in the pantry for us to snack on when we got home from school. So that was kind of my. It was such a fun, fun trip to say, okay, this is what I've made this week, this is a sort of cake I wanna make this week and this is what. I'm sorry.
Karen Covy Host10:06
That's so awesome. I really love that, and I think your kids probably did too Better than Hostess. But so at some point you decided, like you knew what your values were, you knew it was important to you and you decided to hone in on the mediation aspect of being a divorced professional. Why mediation? What does mediation mean to you or bring to you that made you say yes, I wanna do that.
Mandy Walker Guest10:42
So one. I think it did fit with my skill set, as I said, with all my experience and then working in Colorado. Colorado has done a lot to make the divorce process much more accessible for people to go through without using attorneys. So they, or I should say, without retaining attorneys and this is where the language gets a little bit complicated, because I do you know, a lot of people will use attorneys and I often tell people to go get a consult. So they work with attorneys on what we call unbundled basis or a consulting basis. It just means that they have a conversation with them on a specific topic or they might take what we've drafted, an agreement, we've drafted in mediation and take it to the attorney for review. So they can still work with attorneys.
But a lot of people want to do this without retaining attorneys because they want to spend as little as possible and manage their budget on professional fees. Some people I found are just dead set against attorneys and wanna do it themselves. So I think, as I say, Colorado, they've all the templates are online, but I still think it's a very overwhelming process. Yeah, because it has its own jargon and there are like the templates for even our financial disclosures are online, but is there a document that tells you what the court expects all of that to be? No, yeah, so I think people go into this and they recognize that, as you said earlier, this is a huge, monumental change and they really need help from somebody to guide them through it 100%, and I am an attorney and a mediator and all the things, and I understand where people are coming from.
Karen Covy Host12:56
And I think, as time goes on I mean I've seen a huge shift. Having been in the industry for well we'll just call it I counted decades, not single digits, but being in it this long I've seen a much greater movement towards not just do it yourself but do it without litigation, doing it in a different way, and mediation is a great way to do that. But I think you and I are both on the same page of saying to people look, you need legal advice. You may not need the gladiator by your side to fight that. You don't have to get that. You can get legal advice without buying yourself a fight. And if you don't have that legal advice portion, that's when six months later, a year later, you look back and you say, wait a minute, I could have done this. Why didn't I do that? And you start to have regrets or you make mistakes because you weren't fully informed, right? So it's all about knowing what you're deciding and then deciding whatever you want, right?
Mandy Walker Guest14:02
And I do think that most people are surprised at how few things are black and white in divorce 100%, and I can't speak for other states, but in Colorado, and I'll share the statute that talks about how assets get divided, and it's not black and white.
And I'll share the statute for spousal support, and it's not black and white.
So I do tell people mediation is an opportunity for you to reach an agreement that works for you and your family, because they are still a family, and that agreement can look very, very different from what a court would decide if it was in a contested situation.
100%. If we go through, when we go through the process of mediation, if there are topics the two of you aren't able to reach an agreement on or are struggling, that's when I'm gonna tell you to go talk to an attorney, find out from the attorney, if you went to court, what is their assessment for what a judge would say, and then what are the pros and cons to that, what risk is there attached to that and how much would it cost you to get to that point. And then you can bring that back to mediation and that gives you a parameter within which you know how to negotiate Right and I can tell you how. At this point I probably have worked with 80 different couples a year, so I've been doing this for 10, 12 years, so I've helped hundreds of people through this process. I can't tell you how to make your agreement, but I can share how hundreds of other people have looked at, discussed, resolved the same topic.
Karen Covy Host16:03
Right and sometimes in mediation. I know we work to help people reach an agreement, but sometimes disputes arise after the agreement has been in place for years. Do you get people who come back to you and say, hey, we got to talk about this again or revisit that or something's not working. You know those kinds of things.
Mandy Walker Guest16:26
I do. The most common one is child support, because in Colorado it is modifiable by statute. At any time prior to the child's 19th birthday. Your finances change and all the number of overnight changes, or most of the time it incorporates the cost of health insurance as well. So if any of those change, then we're redoing child support and if they're working cooperatively that's a pretty straightforward modification to work through. But again, the court lays it out but it's still not straightforward. So sometimes they'll come back to me and say, hey, can you help us with the modification of child support?
Karen Covy Host17:15
Can you just, for the people who are listening, give an example of why it wouldn't be straightforward? I mean, I know and we can get into that, but what have you seen?
Mandy Walker Guest17:28
The first thing that comes to mind is incomes and people who are either self-employed or who have variable incomes. So there's a base income and there's a variable income or a bonus income. Those sort of things really can really complicate it, Because oftentimes then you're trying to structure it so that the person who's paying it will have the funds available. So sometimes it's not realistic to base it on the bonus that they just got if that was a really good year. So how do you structure it so it's fair and equitable?
Karen Covy Host18:12
Yeah, it's a cash flow thing. If somebody is getting paid a base salary and then once a year they get a bonus to use the whole year's income and say, well, they're going to pay child support of X every week when that X could be a very substantial chunk of their base pay and they've got to wait the whole year to hopefully get a bonus, that becomes kind of tricky and it's also not fair to the person who's receiving the child support to say, well, we're not going to count the bonus because it may or may not come. So it's finding a way to have that happy medium that is, as you said, as equitable as possible, right?
Mandy Walker Guest18:58
Right and I have found that most of the time and not just on child support but on other issues when two people reach an agreement and they submit it to the court, the court doesn't reject it. There are times when the court might say we need you to add more information about what if this, what if that. So then I always tell my clients if the court has any questions, come back to me. I'll give you an up to an hour of my time at no charge and we'll address the court's concerns. So that for me is a helpful way of me making sure that I'm hearing what the court's concerns are, because then I can then the next client around if we're dealing with a similar situation, I know what I need to build in or address in the agreement. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
The common thing right now and I don't know if this has happened where you are is, with mortgage interest rates at 7% or closer 7% and our property prices in Boulder County have really escalated during COVID that a lot of people can't afford to refinance.
To take their spouse's name off, the mortgage can't qualify. It's not that they can't afford to, but they can't qualify to refinance, and even less so refinance with an equity buyout to buy out the spouse's equity interest, and if they sold their current house, they can't afford to still live where they are, which means then they have to move and the kids have to change schools, right? So I'm dealing with a lot of people who are structuring continuing co-ownership at the Marital Home for a number of years, and there's a whole slew of things you have to put in the agreement that gets covered in that, and I think when we first did that a few some years ago, the court would come back and say, well, you haven't addressed XYZ. So now I have a pretty good idea of what the court's looking for and I can talk to them about that during a mediation meeting and make sure we get address it 100%.
Karen Covy Host21:28
And that is so important because I've heard so many people who come in and they say, well, we'll just continue to own the house together, problem solved. I'm like, well, not really. I mean, yeah, it's solved in one way, but what happens if the roof leaks? What happens if you need some sort of major repair? What happens if one person loses their job and can't pay their portion of the mortgage? What happens if and you have to go through this down, this whole series of what ifs- right.
Mandy Walker Guest21:58
And I know here the court would not accept an open-ended statement like parties will continue to co-own the Marital Home together. They're just not going because they don't want to see them back in the courtroom in a few years' time, 100%, and I think that's what people have to realize.
Karen Covy Host22:19
It's not just that the legal system is draconian and the judge is trying to be hard-nosed about it. It's that the judge is actually looking out for the people because they don't want going to court as expensive, it's time consuming and it's nerve-wracking right. There's a lot of anxiety that goes along with being in the court, and so the judge is trying to say let's cover all these contingencies, so I don't see you in court fighting about it again.
Mandy Walker Guest22:50
Right and it's risky going to court. So I always like to tell my people like we'll work out an agreement. If the two of you want to do something different when the time comes, you can voluntarily agree to do that. I would just recommend that you formally record that and record it as an amendment to your agreement and file it with the court so that it avoids future disagreements. But you can, the two of you, cooperate and agree to do something different when it comes down the road for some sort of circumstance that nobody could have foreseen.
Karen Covy Host23:30
Yeah, that's something that people really need to hear and understand. People think so often that whatever is written in their agreement, that somehow, if they do one little thing different, like if they, you know, with respect to parenting time, okay, you're going to have the kids on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, oh, but it says Tuesday. Oh, my goodness, it's not like the judge comes down from on high and swoops in and lightning strikes you right? None of that happens. What I tell people is whatever is in your agreement, only you know that's your blueprint, and if somebody has a problem with it, then you could. You know, and somebody has done something different than that, you can go to court and then ask the judge, but the judge has no idea what you're doing in your life, right, right, so it's not, it's not self enforcing. But that brings me to another question about, you know, mediation in general. You and I are both mediators. We both believe strongly in staying out of court for all the reasons that you said. But is every case right for mediation?
I mean, okay, who should consider this and who should just say, no, they can't do that.
Mandy Walker Guest24:47
So there are situations that you know I offer everybody a free initial consult. But sometimes there are some in that initial consult where it's very clear to me the mediation is not the right path and that's cases where one parent is looking absolutely if they're looking to restrict parenting time, it almost is never going to be mediated unless the other parent is somehow on board, is on board with that. So I'll always say you know, if and most of the time they're looking to restrict parenting time is drug and alcohol use issues, if there's recent domestic violence, that would also probably why preclude mediation. Because in my mediations where I'm working with people who don't have attorneys, we're on the zoom call together. So they're not necessarily in the same room or we're meeting in person together. I like to do them as much as possible, the three of us together.
If there's been domestic violence or there's a substance to use question, then that probably isn't going to work and that is going to point them to attorneys. Just because they can't be together, they can't, they're not, they can't have a productive conversation. I've also I do usually tell people you know, there's no harm in trying mediation and my first step is always to get them to pull their finances together. And if that drags on and one party has done their finances and the other party keeps dragging their heels, I'm going to say you know, guys, party A has said that they really want to move forward with this and party B I'm not seeing that you're sharing your financial data. I don't know if mediation is right for you.
Karen Covy Host27:10
Well, let me ask you a question. I mean, if party B, or even both of them, don't want to share their financial information, can they mediate?
Mandy Walker Guest27:20
No, I won't do that. So usually I'm doing parenting plan and separation agreement, and the separation agreement is the narrative for how you're dividing your finances. So, certainly on the financial side, how do you decide who's taking what if you don't know what the totality is Exactly? So I feel pretty strongly that you can't, and the courts here require each person to submit a financial statement. So, working with me, you will have that statement ready to submit to the court, but I can't get into a discussion about who's taking what until we know what the whole pitch is.
Karen Covy Host28:10
And that is so important, because I don't think people always realize that. I mean, it sounds so basic when you put it out there. You can't divide what you don't know exists. But somehow there are some people who think that they can just not provide that information and get through mediation, or and use the mediation as a way to. Well, I can make my spouse agree to what I want, whatever division I want, and they'll be none the wiser, and that's just the way it's going to go.
Mandy Walker Guest28:45
So, just feeding off what you've said, I have had situations where the finances have been disclosed. But there's one party who is very fixed on a particular issue and it's like my way or the highway, and my sense is that that issue is an unreasonable request. And then I say to both parties go talk to two attorneys, get your assessment done and then come back. But sometimes that party still is, you know, locked into a position. And that's when I say you know, guys, I really don't think mediation is the right path for you. We've had two meetings. We've made no progress. This is not cost effective for you. You need to go through, consider a different route.
Karen Covy Host29:41
That leads me to another question. Because mediation so many people think that the mediators are judged and can decide things, and you and I both know that's not true. So since we can't decide, we can only suggest, recommend open minds, you know, help, communication, those kinds of things. But at what point will you tell a couple guys this is just not going to work, like you know? How many sessions will they have? How long does it take before you say to them you're not, this doesn't look like you're ever going to reach an agreement?
Mandy Walker Guest30:16
Well I think it's that's a hard question to answer in terms of sessions. I will try and resolve as many other issues as I can, because I know then I can say to them look, you've got this one issue that's not resolved. You guys can go ahead and file your own agreements with the court and ask the court to resolve this one issue. And I think that if you can get to that point then it also narrows down that contested hearing and you've resolved a lot of other issues. But that being said, I also tell people nothing is set in stone until we have an agreement that's signed and filed with the court. So at any point you can say well, if I agree to this, then I want to go back and rediscuss XYZ, yeah. So I think that that's something you know, I do try to make, emphasize or share with people at the beginning of the process.
If we're talking about, say, I have a spreadsheet and it starts off with the house asset and we just kind of work through each of the assets and say let's talk about what might happen to the house, and I just this is a stake in the ground, it's a beginning point. It's not locking us in, it's not saying if party B keeps the house, that party B is going to keep the house. We might come back and revisit this as we work through the rest of the division of assets and see how things work out. But you kind of have to. You have to have a starting point, you have to start nailing things down so then you can look at the end of it what's in party A column, what's in party B column and how does that feel?
Colorado is an equitable division state. It's not a 50/50 state. So then we have a whole discussion about what does equitable mean and how does the court decide that? So You know it's a balancing act. When do I tell somebody that mediation isn't gonna work Well? Also, I'm thinking about another case where I did feel that their settlement was very lopsided and it worried me, and I know that the judge, when they would have a hearing with the judge and the judge's role is to make sure that agreements have been made with full disclosure and understanding and that it's their word is not unconscionable.
Karen Covy Host32:57
Yep, we have the same word here.
Mandy Walker Guest32:58
A lovely double negative there, but I worry. I feel like I as a mediator and abdicating my responsibilities if I wanna rely on a judge challenging an agreement. That I feel is imbalanced. So in that case, and also as a mediator, you have to be transparent. You're a neutral third party. I wrote to both parties and I said I know that party B has consulted with an attorney. Party A you have not. I really recommend that, before you sign this agreement, that you get a consult. And I had asked them why they were willing to sign the agreement. And they said I need money, I've got no money, I've got no other way to live right now. And I think at that point I said, as you, when I wrote that email, party B wrote back and said you're fired, you're done. And I said okay, I understand, yeah, because I feel I have obligations, ethical obligations, that I have to meet. Next morning he called and he said I was hasty, I apologize, I wanna come back with a different offer.
Karen Covy Host34:17
Mandy Walker Guest34:19
And so we met and we talked some more and we got it to a place of an agreement. And there was some things going on with party A too that had changed things, where I felt, okay, this is an agreement that I feel is more equitable and I felt that I had met my obligation without kind of feeling like, oh God, this is terrible, this is an awful agreement. I hope the judge challenges it. So yeah, and I understand, I mean.
Karen Covy Host34:52
I think that's something else that people don't really realize is that every divorce professional that you involve down the line, we all have our own obligations too, our ethical obligations or just kind of your own moral compass, and it's like what will you be a part of and what won't you? I recall years ago I was as a lawyer representing someone and it was a couple, where it was. They were not American born, right, they came from a different culture that was very paternalistic, and there was a lot going on behind the scenes, and I represented the woman who had made an agreement that was just, you know, it was, in my opinion, unconscionable, right. And I said to her don't do this, don't do this, don't do this. And she said you don't understand what I'm dealing with the family, what I'm dealing with, this person. Like, I have to make this agreement, and I know it looks bad from the outside, and so all I could do is her lawyer to say you're doing it against legal advice and you know you understand what you're doing. Go through the whole list of you understand this and this and this and this.
And then, when it came to going to court. What should have been a 10 minute hearing took over an hour and I wasn't sure the judge was going to actually agree to it, because the judge had the same concerns that I did and ultimately the agreement got entered. But it's a question of really knowing what you're doing and understanding that the judge could easily have said no, I have a responsibility to the child, to you, to the court system. I am not going to sign it, in which case you don't get divorced Right, which is not optimal, you know if that's what you're trying to do, but okay, we've gotten a little bit off, far off the field, but that you know. That brings me to another question about mediation per se. Are there different kinds of mediation? Like you mentioned, you always mediation with, you know, usually with party, with just the parties, not lawyers. What kinds of mediation are there?
Mandy Walker Guest37:18
Well, that's a really good question, cause I'm trying to think about the best way of answering that. So Colorado is a mandatory mediation state, so if you and your other party aren't able to reach an agreement, the court will force you to mediate prior to having a hearing. So what that means? I think some people go ahead and file paperwork with the court and then the court says you have to go mediate. And I don't really like this because really they could do a two hour mediation. They get the certificate of mediation and then they go back to court and that's satisfying the mandatory mediation rules. And I don't think that that's. That's certainly I don't.
I do very, very few mandatory mediation because the vast majority of clients I work with I'm working on a mediated process where I take them from start to finish. They're saying we've decided we need to end our marriage, we need some help getting through the legal process. I say great, by the time you've finished working with me, you'll have every piece of paper that you need to file with the court, assuming you can reach an agreement. So that's, it is a process. It's not a two-hour meeting. It depends very much on them doing their homework and responding, but it's usually, you know, maybe with children it's a 10 to 15 hour process, including my time for drafting documents, so it's definitely not a two hour mediation bang and done.
If you're working with attorneys, that mandatory mediation means that before the court will have a hearing, the attorneys have to have and I think this is more appropriately called a settlement conference, where they will have these marathon endurance sessions that are scheduled for six, eight hours and they're in separate rooms and the mediator moves between the two rooms and they're trying to resolve all of the issues so that they don't have to go for a hearing. I don't generally don't do that type of mediation too. I think that the attorneys, when they're representing clients, would rather work with an attorney mediator than a non-attorney mediator, and I'm classed as a non-attorney mediator. So I have this niche of people who have not retained attorneys who want to do the mediated process. So I think that it's a very different process from when you're working with attorneys or doing that mandatory mediation.
Karen Covy Host40:16
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and I think what's important for people to realize is that mediation is not just one thing Like this is me. There are many different kinds, there are many different processes, some of which are more effective in certain circumstances than others, and it's important for people to understand that they have a choice and then to choose the process that's going to work for them right, right, and I do wanna add in there that there are situations where people absolutely need to work with attorneys.
Mandy Walker Guest40:59
And it's not a bad thing. It doesn't mean, oh, mediation isn't better or worse than it's, just how are you gonna reach a resolution most effectively given your set of circumstances? And there, as I said, when I have initial consults with people, I will. I'm mentally going through my checklist and then I'll say you know, mediation is not gonna work for you. You need to go straight to an attorney, to not pass, go to not like to have people go straight to an attorney, and I think sometimes people feel guilty that they're doing that and not trying mediation.
Karen Covy Host41:46
Yeah, but it's not a reflection on them as a person, for their marriage or anything like that. It's just about making a choice. You know, which is what this whole podcast is about is decision making and choice and understanding what goes into deciding for mediation of this type, that type or the other type, or litigation or collaborative divorce. What you're knowing what your options are and then being able to make the best choice for you and your family. That's really what it's about.
Mandy Walker Guest42:20
Yeah, I do have a sample timeline for mediation, which I would encourage your listeners, if they're interviewing mediators or attorneys, to say can you give me an idea, a timeline? What does this look like? And I don't say that this is like meeting one. Meeting two this is what we'll cover. Meeting two this is what we'll cover. Meeting three this is what we'll cover after meeting one. This will be your homework. This is my homework. It's because I'm very aware you know this is their first divorce. I've been through it hundreds of times, so I know an order of things that really works. But I think spelling it out like that to people really helps them get an understanding about what this is about and what to expect.
Karen Covy Host43:15
Yeah, that is so important, because people don't know what to expect. And then your fear becomes huge, because you don't know what to expect.
Mandy Walker Guest43:27
You don't know where it's going. You don't know how long it's gonna take.
Karen Covy Host43:31
Yeah 100%, Mandy. This has been a wonderful discussion. I could keep going for another hour or two, but in the interest of keeping this sort of within some sort of timeframe, I'm gonna wrap it up here and just ask you one last question, which is where is the best place for people to go if they wanna find you?
Mandy Walker Guest43:53
Thank you, Karen. It's mandywalker.com and Mandy is M-A-N-D-Y Walker-W-A-L-K-E-R. I sometimes get questions about that because my accent yeah, that's the best place to reach me.
Karen Covy Host44:10
That's awesome, Mandy. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom here and really answering a lot of questions about mediation that I know people have. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And for everyone out there who is listening or who is watching, if you like this episode, if you like what you hear, if you wanna hear more of it, I encourage you, please like, subscribe and definitely share these episodes, and I look forward to talking with you again next time. Bye for now.