A New Method Helping Colorado Self-Represented Litigants in Post-Decree Family Matters
In the Jefferson County District Courthouse in Golden, Colorado, family law self-represented litigants in court on post-decree matters have a new resource available to them. The Turelli Foundation, formed by retired Judge Richard Turelli and retired family law attorney Randy Mustain-Wood, has developed a process for moving complicated and potentially protracted post-decree cases through the court system, which often involve custody arrangements or child support. The Turelli Method is comprised of the following components:
- Two facilitators—one of whom is a legal expert and one a mental health/relationship expert—guide families through the process;
- The focus is on the best interests of the child(ren), and, at the outset, parents are shown pictures of their child(ren) and asked to affirm that any agreement reached prioritizes the child(ren);
- The process occurs in courthouse conference rooms over the course of an initial two-hour time slot and is centered on helping parents create their own stipulated agreement;
- In order to keep the process simple, no attempt is made to review pending motions, and if a stipulated agreement is reached, all motions are dismissed;
- Participants are not charged for the service—instead, satisfied parties who wish to contribute financially are asked to donate to the Foundation.
In operation since spring of 2014, the Turelli Method has successful facilitated agreement and an accompanying court order in 68 out of 80 cases. None of the cases have returned to the court and approximately 200 motions have been removed from the court’s workload. It remains to be seen whether the program will expand to other judicial districts.
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