Category: Mediation

Affordable Divorce Options in Texas

Affordable Divorce Options in Texas

It is no secret that the divorce process is emotionally and financially straining on many couples. When you are looking for an affordable option to file for divorce, divorce mediation can be an excellent alternative for you. This will help to reduce the divorce cost, while also ensuring you are getting quality legal advice to guide you through the process. Working with a divorce attorney can help you handle all of the divorce forms and issues that come up with family law cases in the state of Texas.

If divorce mediation does not work for you, there are other options such as filing for a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce in Texas. Call us today to learn more about your options for divorce.

 

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process that allows divorcing couples to meet with a specially-trained, neutral third-party to discuss and resolve common divorce-related issues. Mediation is typically less stressful and less expensive than a divorce trial, and it usually proceeds much faster. Because you and your spouse have the final say over your divorce matters, mediation also allows couples to maintain the power and control in their divorce, as opposed to asking a judge to decide.

Mediation gives you and your spouse the opportunity to build your communication skills, even in situations where a lack of communication was the cause for the relationship’s demise. With the help of a trained professional, even the most communication-challenged couples can succeed in mediation.

 

How Do Parents Choose a Mediator?

There’s no doubt that divorce becomes more complicated when it involves children. Parents seeking a divorce will need to select a mediator who is trained to handle the various issues that come with divorce, like child custody, visitation, and child support.

Your mediator should be trained in conflict resolution and have extensive knowledge of your state’s divorce laws. Additionally, your mediator should be willing to work with you and your spouse to facilitate a meaningful conversation about the issues at hand, which can help eliminate the finger-pointing and other drama that usually accompanies divorce. Typically, mediators will keep you on track and may make suggestions to help you resolve any lingering issues. However, your mediator can’t make decisions for you, force either spouse to accept a term, or insist that either spouse sign a contract.

 

How Does Mediation Work?

The mediation process starts once you and your spouse agree to use this method of alternative dispute resolution and choose your mediator. In most states, mediation is voluntary, so if either spouse disagrees and wants to follow the traditional divorce route, a court won’t force your spouse to engage in mediation. That said, there are some states where the court requires couples to demonstrate a good faith effort in mediation before scheduling additional court hearings.

Mediation will only work if both spouses are open to negotiating the terms of the divorce. Typically, you’ll set up an initial meeting between the spouses and the mediator. During the first meeting, each spouse will have the opportunity to explain expectations for the most common divorce-related issues, including:

  • property division
  • child custody and visitation
  • child support, and
  • alimony or spousal support.

This initial discussion will help the mediator gain an idea of how far apart you are and what areas need the most work.

Aside from statutory limitations of divorce, mediation doesn’t have a time limit. You can continue to mediate and work on your divorce judgment for as long as you, your spouse, and the mediator would like. Naturally, the longer it takes and the more meetings you have, the more expensive it becomes. You can decide to meet once per week, monthly, or at any other time. Most couples can resolve mediation with a few sessions, which typically costs thousands of dollars less than litigating your case in court.

Once you agree on all the outstanding issues, the mediator will draft a divorce settlement agreement for both spouses (and their attorneys) to review, sign, and present to the judge.

 

Affordable Divorce Lawyer Serving Houston, TX

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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What Role Do Divorce Lawyers Play In Mediation

What Role Do Divorce Lawyers Play In Mediation

Mediation offers an opportunity for divorcing couples to work out the terms of their divorce agreement with an impartial third party. The mediation process is typically much less expensive and time consuming than the traditional divorce process. While you do not have to use a divorce attorney in your mediation session, they are familiar with state laws and have the most experience dealing with divorce cases. This allows them to give thoughtful legal advice and help couples work through complex matters such as spousal support, child custody, property division, and more.

Your family law attorney can work with both parties throughout the divorce mediation to ensure they are being heard and that their needs are being met. They are present to ensure that no one is being intimidated into signing a divorce agreement that does not serve them. If emotions get high or one person is becoming aggressive your mediator may reschedule the session or decide mediation is not a good option for your situation.

If you are considering mediation for your Texas divorce, call our law firm today. The team at Renken Law Firm work with families from all different backgrounds to find solutions for their specific situation.

 

Why Choose to Mediate Your Divorce?

Although judges often order divorcing couples to participate in mediation before going to trial, you have the option of mediating on your own—either before you file for divorce or at any time after. Mediating your divorce has a lot of advantages over litigating it (fighting it out in court).

  • Cost. Mediation is much less expensive than a trial.
  • Settling the case. Most mediations end in settlement of all of the issues in the divorce.
  • Confidentiality. Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions.
  • Freedom. Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles.
  • Advice still available. You can go to mediation and still choose to have a lawyer give you legal advice.
  • Control. You and your spouse—not the court—control the process.
  • Communication. The mediation process encourages communication between you and your spouse, helping you avoid future conflicts.

Successful mediation makes the rest of your divorce easier: Because you’ve done all the hard work of hammering out the details in the mediation, you can file an “uncontested” divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually less expensive and faster than litigated divorces (divorces where the couple battles in court).

With an uncontested divorce, you’ll save money on attorneys’ fees and the costs of going to trial. Also, many courts fast-track uncontested cases because everything has been worked out in advance, meaning that a judge will be able to finalize your divorce faster than if you’d gone to trial.

 

Affordable Divorce Mediation Lawyer

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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What Happens After Divorce Mediation Settlement

What Happens After Divorce Mediation Settlement

Mediation is a popular choice for divorcing couples because in most aspects, it is easier and less complex than marriages dissolved through litigation. One of the main perks of working with your spouse to come up with a divorce agreement is that once you have agreed to the terms of your divorce, it will not require much more effort to become finalized.

Once you have come up with a divorce agreement that both parties fully agree on, you will just need to fill out a few forms and file them with the appropriate court. When you work with a family law attorney as your divorce mediator, such as Dawn Renken, they will be able to file all of this paperwork for you.

You and your spouse will have a final review hearing as well, to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as the final divorce agreement. In some cases it is possible to file a motion to have the requirement of your attendance waived. The hearing will not be a long and drawn out process, the judge will just want to ensure both parties are aware of what they are signing and in agreement with the terms outlined.

Attorney Dawn Renken is here to help assist you throughout your divorce case. She has decades of experience and understands how mediation works, even in complex divorces with child custody and support issues. If you are considering divorce mediation reach out to our law firm today.

 

How Do You Complete Your Texas Divorce After Successful Mediation?

After you’ve signed a mediated settlement agreement, the final divorce paperwork will have to be prepared and filed, including:

  • the proposed final divorce decree, and
  • a motion to enter a judgment based on your agreement.

When your mediated settlement agreement meets the requirements discussed above (including the statement that it can’t be changed), Texas law says that you are entitled to a final divorce decree that follows the terms of the mediated settlement. That’s true whether the mediation took place before you filed for divorce or during the divorce proceedings.

This rule has only two exceptions. The first is if the judge finds that the settlement was illegal or resulted from fraud, duress, or coercion. The second exception is if the agreement isn’t in a child’s best interests, and either:

  • a spouse’s decision-making was impaired due to being a victim of domestic violence, or
  • the agreement allows unsupervised access to a child by a parent with a history of physical or sexual abuse.

Unless one of those circumstances applies, the judge may not refuse to enter a divorce decree based on what a mediated settlement agreement says—even if the judge doesn’t believe it’s fair or in a child’s best interest.

 

Affordable Divorce Mediation Lawyer

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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What Can I Expect From a Divorce Mediator

What Can I Expect From a Divorce Mediator

These days many couples going through the divorce process are choosing mediation. If you are interested in learning more about how our divorce attorneys can help you with an alternative dispute resolution read below about divorce mediation.

 

What Is Divorce Mediation?

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained, neutral mediator to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. Mediation sessions often take place in an informal office setting, but you might also be able to go through your mediation online.

A mediator can help you reach agreement on the issues you and your spouse need to resolve in order to finalize your divorce, such as child custody, child support, and property division. Mediators don’t make decisions or offer legal advice, but rather serve as facilitators to help spouses figure out what’s best for their situation.

When spouses reach agreement through mediation, most mediators will draft (and possibly file with the court) a divorce settlement agreement.

 

Why Choose to Mediate Your Divorce?

Although judges often order divorcing couples to participate in mediation before going to trial, you have the option of mediating on your own—either before you file for divorce or at any time after. Mediating your divorce has a lot of advantages over litigating it (fighting it out in court).

  • Cost. Mediation is much less expensive than a trial.
  • Settling the case. Most mediations end in settlement of all of the issues in the divorce.
  • Confidentiality. Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions.
  • Freedom. Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles.
  • Advice still available. You can go to mediation and still choose to have a lawyer give you legal advice.
  • Control. You and your spouse—not the court—control the process.
  • Communication. The mediation process encourages communication between you and your spouse, helping you avoid future conflicts.

Successful mediation makes the rest of your divorce easier: Because you’ve done all the hard work of hammering out the details in the mediation, you can file an “uncontested” divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually less expensive and faster than litigated divorces (divorces where the couple battles in court).

With an uncontested divorce, you’ll save money on attorneys’ fees and the costs of going to trial. Also, many courts fast-track uncontested cases because everything has been worked out in advance, meaning that a judge will be able to finalize your divorce faster than if you’d gone to trial.

 

Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Consider Divorce Mediation

Mediation can work for many if not most divorcing couples, even ones who have hard feelings and lots of issues to resolve. While mediation is worth trying for most pairs, not all of them belong in mediation. Mediation might not be for you if:

You have experienced domestic abuse or fear for your or your children’s safety. If you are currently experiencing or recently experienced domestic violence or the threat of violence, mediation isn’t for you—you should seek assistance from a lawyer or other qualified source. If there was abuse in the relationship but it was some time ago, you should weigh the pros and cons of mediating carefully. Depending on the circumstances, some who have been abused might find it empowering to meet on the level playing field of a mediation session. Also, most mediators will take precautions to ensure that mediation occurs in safe conditions (for example, by meeting with the spouses separately). Others who have been abused, however, could reasonably find it traumatic to have to mediate or might feel the power or intimidation dynamics are too great—they might choose to have a lawyer do their negotiating for them. Also, some mediators won’t take cases that involve domestic violence.

Your spouse has a history of being deceitful or untrustworthy. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, wasting funds, or lying, mediation probably isn’t worth your time. You won’t be able to successfully negotiate unless both spouses are truthful, make full disclosures, and play by the rules.

You suspect your spouse wants to delay the proceedings. Because the mediator can’t order either of you to do anything, a person who wants to delay the proceedings or avoid paying support can abuse the process by agreeing to mediation and then stalling the process.

One of you is claiming fault or has hired a lawyer. When a spouse is claiming that the other is legally at fault for ending the marriage (a claim you can’t make in all states), a successful mediation is less likely—but not impossible. If your spouse has already hired a lawyer, you should strongly consider hiring one, too. Your lawyer will help you decide if participating in mediation is worth it based on the facts of your situation.

For divorces without those kinds of circumstances, divorce mediation can be a great option. It’s especially effective when both people show up open to compromise.

Don’t reject mediation just because you and your spouse see a particular issue very differently—in other words, don’t give up before you’ve begun. Mediation is a powerful process, and many cases that seem impossible to resolve at the beginning end up in a settlement.

 

Texas Family Law Firm

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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Divorce Mediation Lawyer in Houston TX

Divorce Mediation Lawyer in Houston TX

Are you looking for an established law firm to help you through the mediation process? Renken Law Firm offers legal advice for couples facing the most difficult issues during the divorce process including spousal support, child support, and property division during your Houston divorce mediation. Our goal is to reach an amicable resolution in all family law cases.

 

Arbitration vs Mediation

Arbitration and Mediation are two alternatives for dispute resolution and are used in place of the litigation process. The choice depends on the context and situation. The difference between an arbitrator and a mediator lies in their role and whether the agreement or judgment is binding.

Differences in role of an arbitrator and mediator

Mediators not only assist in resolving disputes but also to prevent disputes. They play a pivotal role in identifying mutual interests and promoting healthy communication between the 2 parties involved. They encourage effective interaction and help in arriving at a mutually agreeable resolution. Thus mediators do not render a judgment but facilitate dialog to reach an agreement.

An arbitrator is one who delivers a fair judgment to resolve a dispute. The arbitrator’s decision may or may not be favorable to one or more parties involved; however, the arbitrator is a neutral third party chosen by the disputing parties in lieu of litigating in court. The role of the arbitrator is to render a judgment in the dispute and this judgment is legally binding, unless the parties have agreed beforehand that the judgment will not be binding.

Cost, Time & Outcome

It often takes lesser time to mediate a dispute and the fee charged by the mediator is more often lesser. There is also more likelihood of the relationship between the parties and the mediator to continue longer term (beyond just one dispute), since the mediator often seeks to keep the parties talking and working with each other by reaching a consensus.

Arbitration usually takes longer and costs more because the arbitrator needs to evaluate all the facts, hear all sides of the story, examine all the evidence and make a ruling that is legally binding. Usually cases handled by arbitrators involve parties who no longer work together after the dispute ends. Therefore the same parties are not likely to work with the same arbitrator again.

 

Is A Mediator Right For Me?

Attorney Dawn Renken is a practicing family law attorney in Texas, that specializes in divorce cases in Houston, TX. Attorney Renken received her mediation license through ADR Services International Inc. in 2014. Since this time, she has worked with a wide range of divorcing couples looking for alternatives to traditional courtroom divorces. Mediation offers the opportunity to divorce without public court appearances or back and forth litigation. Mediation is a private method of divorce that allows both parties to work together to reach an amicable solution as a neutral third-party mediator works to ensure both parties are fairly represented in the final agreement.

 

Top Divorce Mediator in Houston, TX

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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Do Both Parents Have To Pay for Mediation

Do Both Parents Have To Pay for Mediation?

What Is Child Custody Mediation?

Mediation is a method of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) that has become a mainstay in the world of divorce. When it comes to child custody, mediation is designed to help divorcing or unmarried parents reach an agreement on legal and physical custody of their children without the pain and expense of a traditional court contest.

In a mediation session, spouses meet with a trained mediator, usually in an informal setting (such as the mediator’s office), or sometimes online. Think of the mediator as a guide, navigating the couple through the maze of marital issues they disagree on. (Sometimes the spouses work with a mediator and otherwise handle the case themselves; other times, they each have an attorney who might help them prepare for mediation, provide coaching for the negotiation process, and prepare or review any resulting agreement.)

 

Paying For Mediation

In most cases, a mediator will charge an hourly rate. This rate will cover the entire session and can be divided between both parents as they see fit. In many cases, courts will order mediation for divorcing couples with children in order to ensure the child’s best interests are being advocated for in a healthy and unbiased manner. If you are interested in learning more about how mediation can help you tackle some of the major difficulties divorcing parents face, such as child support and child custody, reach out to Renken Law Firm in Houston.

 

5 Tips for Your Child Custody Mediation Sessions

Even if both spouses come with the best intentions, mediation can hit rough patches. When that happens it’s important to take a breath and refocus your energy on what’s best for the children.

Here are some more tips to achieve a successful mediation:

  1. Don’t bring up marital issues unrelated to the children. Remember that this isn’t a general divorce mediation, so don’t muddy the waters by bringing up anything not specifically related to custody and parenting time. Reciting a laundry list of things you don’t like about the other parent is a prime example of what not to say in child custody mediation.
  2. Be thoughtful with your language. When you reference your children, talk about “our” kids, not “my” kids. It’s more inclusive and less confrontational. And try to couch your remarks in terms of what you as parents can jointly do to make the situation as positive and painless for your children as possible.
  3. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Expect that—despite everyone’s best efforts—there will be times when your discussion can become heated. Don’t use that as an excuse to unload on the other parent, which will only undo progress that’s been made up to that point. Mediators are adept at calming the waters, but if you feel your emotions are getting away from you, ask to take a short break.
  4. Don’t subject yourself to abuse. If you’re a victim of ongoing domestic violence, emotional abuse, or bullying, mediation might not be appropriate. If there was past abuse in your relationship, you might consider mediation but with separate sessions for you and the other parent. It might end up costing more, but at least it allows you to use mediation while, hopefully, leveling the playing field by offsetting the imbalance of power that frequently exists in abusive relationships. A successful outcome is worth the additional cost, which is still likely to be considerably less than heading to court. Separate sessions, or virtual mediation sessions, are also best if the degree of hostility between you and the other parent is so high that you can’t be in the same room. (Some states have special protections in cases involving abuse when the couples have been ordered to custody mediation.)
  5. Remember, you always have options. In the event mediation doesn’t work, you can still turn to the courts. Even in that case, your mediation sessions will probably have highlighted the issues you can’t agree on, which will show you what you need to focus on going forward.

 

Best Mediation Lawyer in Houston

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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What Should I Ask For in Mediation

What Should I Ask For in Mediation

The point of divorce mediation is to have a more transparent and affordable divorce method. The mediation process will allow you and your spouse to work together when resolving issues and deciding on a final divorce agreement. Knowing what you want out of the divorce is important when going into the negotiation process. Our family law team works with you by providing the best mediation services in the Greater Houston area. We are familiar with what it takes to find a resolution and maintain an amicable tone throughout the divorce.

Listed below are some topics you will need to be ready to discuss in order to cover your bases and know what it is you are asking for in your mediation:

  • Marital property division and debt allocation. Before attending mediation, both spouses will probably complete a detailed financial and property worksheet. During negotiations, you’ll determine what property belongs to the marital estate and what, if any, belongs to the individual spouses. Once you’ve done that, the mediator will help you determine how to split the marital assets.
  • Retirement account division. Aside from the marital home, retirement accounts are often a couple’s largest asset. Dividing retirement accounts in divorce can be complicated. Both spouses must disclose 401k, 403b, pension, and any other retirement accounts to their spouse before mediation. In most cases, if you want to divide a retirement account, you’ll need to create what’s called a “qualified domestic relations order” (QDRO) or “domestic relations order” (DRO). You and your spouse might need to hire a pension expert or QDRO preparation company to create an order for you.
  • Spousal support. If you believe you’ll need spousal support (also called “alimony” or “maintenance”), you should do a deep dive into your income and financial obligations before attending your mediation session. If you aren’t sure where to start, a divorce attorney can help you understand your state’s laws and calculations for support.
  • Child custody. Before you attend mediation, you should learn a bit about child custody basics and familiarize yourself with the custody terms the mediator will use in your session. Our article on child custody mediation provides a great summary of what to expect.
  • Child support. Your mediator should know the state’s guidelines for child support and will typically use the formula to determine the final amount of child support. Be prepared to discuss any expenses that might be unique to your child, such as out-of-pocket medical costs or fees for extracurricular activities, as well as each parent’s responsibility for child tax credits.
  • Insurance coverage. You will want to discuss the ownership and possible transfer of all policies you have, such as medical, vehicle, property, and umbrella. When couples divorce, health insurance in particular often becomes a significant issue for at least one spouse—make sure you’re ready to discuss how each of you will maintain coverage.
  • Future communication. The mediator will help you work out these details, but be prepared to discuss issues like what happens when someone doesn’t meet the requirements in the agreement, how you’ll exchange tax information, who will pay legal expenses, how to resolve disputes, and the best ways to communicate going forward.
  • Anything else. Think about any additional issues unique to your family. Are they now, or could they later be, a source of disagreement? Talking about them now might help you fend off down-the-road problems.

 

Best Divorce Mediator in Houston, Texas

Working with an experienced and good mediator will help you to navigate the process. Attorney Renken received her mediation license through ADR Services International Inc. in 2014. Since this time, she has worked with a wide range of divorcing couples looking for alternatives to traditional courtroom divorces. Mediation offers the opportunity to divorce without public court appearances or back and forth litigation. Mediation is a private method of divorce that allows both parties to work together to reach an amicable solution as a neutral third-party mediator works to ensure both parties are fairly represented in the final agreement.

 

Best Divorce Mediation Lawyer in Houston

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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How Does The Mediation Process Work

How Does The Mediation Process Work

A popular alternative to traditional divorce is mediation. However, it is important to recognize that divorce mediation does not work for all divorcing couples. Listed below is an inside look into how the divorce mediation process works, so you can decide if it is a good fit for your specific situation.

 

Stage 1: Introducing the Divorce Mediation Process

Before the first mediation session gets underway, the mediator will need to perform an intake of the participants and explain what they should expect from the mediation process. You’ll also need to discuss the terms of payment for the mediation if you haven’t already.

Every mediator handles this stage differently—if you’re participating in a private mediation, you might have already provided the mediator with background information such as your contact information, length of marriage, and whether you have children. However, if you’re attending court-ordered mediation, you might have just met your mediator, so these administrative details will need to be addressed before the mediation proceeds.

The mediator will also explain the procedures for the day, present an agenda, and address any questions you and your spouse might have.

 

Stage 2: Gathering Information

In order for the mediation to be successful, you, your spouse, and the mediator all need to have a clear picture of all the facts that will help you negotiate the issues in your divorce. At the beginning of this stage (or perhaps during Stage 1), the mediator will inquire about what you and your spouse agree on, and what you still need to work out. Most divorcing spouses will need to address the following in mediation:

  • division of marital property, including assets and debts
  • spousal support (alimony)
  • child support (if applicable), and
  • child custody and visitation.

Your mediator might have requested that you gather information relating to these topics—such as bank statements, paystubs, and your children’s school schedules—before mediation. If not, your mediator will help you determine what information you need to bring in. If you can’t locate an important document or don’t know something crucial to the discussions, the mediator might suggest ways to get this information.

As you progress, the mediator will summarize the information being assembled. If you agree that additional research is needed or a neutral expert is to be consulted, that will go on a “to do” list.

During this stage, the mediator might also begin to discuss the general legal rules that apply to the issues in your divorce. For example, the mediator might explain your state’s property division laws, introduce you to the state’s child support guidelines, or give you examples of how judges decide alimony. Your mediator is sharing this information to help you understand what might happen if you were to ask a court to decide these issues, so you can make informed decisions during settlement negotiations.

If you feel that you already know enough about your situation and have some settlement proposals in mind, fight the urge to tune out at this stage. Even though you might want to rush straight into negotiations, the mediator’s job is to make sure that both you and your spouse have all the facts and information you need to reach a settlement that is legally binding and that you won’t regret having signed.

Depending on how much preparation you’ve done and how much information you gathered, this second stage can span two or more sessions. If you’re waiting on additional information needed to tackle one of the issues—for example, if you need to get an appraisal in order to divide real property—the mediator might put off that discussion for a later session.

 

Stage 3: Framing the Issues in Your Divorce

In the framing stage, the mediator helps each spouse outline their “needs and interests.” This includes discussing each person’s desired outcomes, their reasons for wanting these outcomes, and their individual concerns, priorities, goals, and values. Identifying needs and interests helps to frame the core goal of the mediation: a settlement that successfully addresses each spouse’s most important interests.

Often, spouses’ needs and interests overlap. This is especially likely if the spouses identify a concern for other people, such as children. When an overlap like this occurs, it increases the likelihood of settlement. Of course, it’s not always possible to negotiate an agreement that satisfies fully all of the interests of the disputing parties. In divorce—where limited resources must be divided between two households—parties frequently must compromise. But when a mediator can fully identify and work through each spouse’s most important needs and interests, the chances are good that the resulting compromises will be ones that both spouses can live with.

Some mediators prefer to conduct the framing stage with each spouse separately, as they believe it better prepares each of you for the next stage: negotiating. Other mediators favor joint sessions because they believe that when spouses hear each other work with the mediator it lays a better foundation for the give and take of the negotiation stage. Either method can work, although separate sessions make the mediation longer (and more expensive), because anything important that is said in the separate session will have to be repeated to the other spouse.

 

Stage 4: Negotiating Your Divorce

Once the mediator has helped the spouses frame the issues and interests clearly, it’s time to negotiate. Negotiations usually begin with an exploration of possible ways to settle each issue in the divorce. With the mediator’s help, the spouses brainstorm and evaluate their options, until they eventually have a list of solutions that might work for both. Arriving at a “short list” of options almost always involves compromises and concessions on both sides.

Most mediators will emphasize the problem-solving aspect of negotiation at this stage. The problem to be solved is finding settlement options that address each spouse’s most important interests as fully as possible. With this focus, you’ll be able to negotiate by trading off acceptable options instead of getting locked into zero-sum bargaining, where one spouse’s gain is the other spouse’s loss.

 

Stage 5: Drafting a Settlement and Concluding the Mediation

When the spouses have reached agreement about one or more of the issues in their divorce, many mediators—especially those who are also attorneys—will work with the spouses to draft a marital settlement agreement. Both spouses (and their attorneys, if they have any) have the chance to thoroughly review the agreement before signing.

The signing of a marital settlement agreement doesn’t finalize the divorce, though. The parties still need to file the settlement agreement with the court and ask that the judge incorporate it into the final divorce decree. Some mediators will file the settlement agreement and any other required divorce paperwork with the court—be sure to ask your mediator whether this is a service provided as part of the mediation.

One of the major benefits of a successful mediation is that it allows the spouses to pursue an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one where there are no issues (such as property division and child custody) for the judge to decide—all that remains is for the court to review the settlement to ensure that it is fair and legal, and enter a final divorce decree. Because there are no issues to resolve, uncontested divorces are usually far less expensive than litigated divorces. Also, because uncontested divorces are simpler, many people choose to DIY their paperwork, and courts can finalize these divorces sooner than contested divorces.

 

Best Divorce Mediation Lawyer in Houston

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost in Houston

How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost in Houston

While the cost of mediation ill vary depending on the length of time/number of sessions required, this method of divorce is often considered the most affordable. In traditional courtroom divorce cases, both parties typically will hire an attorney. These attorneys will negotiate on behalf of the divorcing couple, leading to a lot of back and forth communication. This will drag out the length of the divorce and require more paid time to attorney.

Mediation is a more affordable divorce process because it allows both parties to communicate directly while working out issues such as spousal support, child custody, child support, and the other details of the settlement agreement. Family mediation helps with positive dispute resolution. When you are able to reach an agreement amicably, this will make for a smoother divorce for all parties involved, especially children.

 

Will Divorce Mediation Work For Me?

For some couples, working with your spouse and a mediator might be just what you need to obtain a divorce with as little conflict as possible. But, mediation will only work if you and your spouse are on the same page. You are more likely to have a successful mediation if all or most of the following statements are true.

You and Your Spouse Agree to Divorce: Despite what we see on television—or what we often hear from friends or family—not all divorces are contentious. In some cases, the decision to divorce is mutual. If you and your spouse agree that the marriage is over, you can file a petition for divorce together or, one spouse can file with the other’s knowledge. When you’re both on the same page, it’s often easier to negotiate and work together to find a resolution for any unresolved divorce issues in mediation.

There’s No History of Domestic Violence: With divorce mediation comes the need for frequent meetings involving both spouses, the mediator, and possibly attorneys. If you and your spouse have a history of domestic abuse, most mediators won’t take your case because it’s difficult to keep both spouses on track, and it’s challenging for the mediator to determine if the victim agrees to the settlement because of fear or intimidation from the abuser. In states that require mediation, if you can demonstrate a history of physical violence, the court will excuse you from the mandatory sessions.

Both Spouses Are Forthcoming About Finances: One of the most complicated parts of any divorce is the finances. Both spouses must be willing to provide the other (and the mediator) with sensitive information, including documentation relating to bank accounts, retirement, pensions, stocks, and all other assets and debts. In most marriages, it’s common for one spouse to be more familiar with the family assets and liabilities than the other. If you don’t have all the relevant financial information, you’ll need to investigate and understand your marital estate before you agree to a proposed property settlement.

You Agree on Custody Terms: Next to finances, child custody and visitation can be the most challenging aspect of divorce. Most parents can set aside their differences for the children’s sake, but sometimes even the best intentions are met with complications. Divorce mediation is an excellent way to work with your co-parent to decide who should care for the children on a day-to-day basis, who should be responsible for paying child support, and the type and frequency of visitation with the non-custodial parent.

 

Best Divorce Mediator in Houston, TX

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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Best Divorce Mediation Attorney Houston

Best Divorce Mediation Attorney Houston

Are you looking for an alternative dispute resolution for your divorce case? Working with mediation lawyers for your Houston divorce can help you to reach an agreement with your spouse and make the divorce process simple for everyone involved. The mediation process is private and can help couples resolve a wide range of issues including child support, child custody, spousal support, property division, and more. Our team foes more than offer legal advice, we work with you every step of the way to ensure both sides are satisfied.

Oftentimes, courts require family mediation to ensure couples are evaluating all sides of their divorce. Our law firm has successfully mediated many divorces and can help you with legal matters pertaining to your divorce. It is important family law cases are treated delicately, something our divorce experts specialize in. We do everything we can to help keep emotions from clouding the judgement of our clients. Let us work with you to ease the burden and help you reach the best divorce agreement for your family.

 

Top Reasons To Choose Divorce Mediation

Cost: Divorce mediation is a much more direct process, in which both parties are able to communicate with each other to work through their issues. This direct line of communication means less back and forth between attorneys, saving you time and money. Many divorce cases can be solved in one meeting with mediation, however, some will require multiple meetings in order to reach a resolution.

Privacy: Anything that is said or entered into court as evidence becomes public record. When you choose divorce mediation everything that is discussed, all financial records, and evidence remains private. This is means only the divorcing couple and their mediator will know what is discussed. Once they reach a final agreement that will be signed off by a judge.

Time: Divorce mediation is often the quickest process for divorce. If you are interested in dissolving your marriage quickly, this may be the best option for you. Keep in mind that in the state of Texas all divorce requires at least 60 days to become finalized.

Peaceful: Often times divorce mediation is a more civilized and peaceful method for ending a marriage. The process requires less involvement and the mediator is trained in helping keep emotions in check while both parties explore their options.

 

Top Divorce Mediator in Houston, TX

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.

 

Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
https://therenkenlawfirm.com
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