Mediation is one of the most commonly used forms of alternative dispute resolution in family law matters such as divorce and child custody. In most counties in Texas, mediation is either required or strongly recommended in family law matters. Texas residents who are facing divorce should not consider it as just a hoop they need to jump through in order to get to a hearing. Instead, people should be aware of how it works and the potential benefits it can offer in divorce.
In a mediation session, the parties and their attorneys meet with a trained mediator who uses his or her negotiation skills and legal training to help the parties reach agreements about the issues between them such as child custody and visitation schedules, property division and spousal support. The mediator is a neutral third party whose aim is to help the parties reach agreements that work for their family, rather than imposing the mediator’s ideas about what should happen to the parties.
In many cases, the parties meet at the mediator’s office or in a mediation center. The mediator often puts the parties in separate rooms and goes back and forth between them during the negotiations. The process takes as long as necessary to reach a full and final settlement of all the issues. It can be as short as one or two sessions over a few weeks or require several sessions over many months, depending on how complex matters are.
When parties make a good faith effort to resolve all of their issues through mediation, they often find that it is superior to litigation for handling divorce. Many report that they felt like they had more control over the process since they are making decisions and not having a judge determine things. Parents are often able to co-parent more easily after using mediation since they do not have the bitterness and hurt that usually result from contested divorce hearings. Mediation is often far less expensive than litigation, as well.
It is important to have the assistance of a skilled Texas divorce attorney during mediation. Even though the parties are reaching their own agreements, an attorney can ensure that the agreements are fair and that the spouse’s rights are protected. If you have questions about what is appropriate for your divorce, consult a seasoned Texas divorce attorney with experience in resolving complex divorces issues.