What Is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a private and informal way to settle conflicts outside of court. In divorce mediation, an impartial third party (a divorce mediator) helps a couple try to negotiate a settlement agreement between them. The issues you mediate might include:
- Property division
- Child custody and parenting plans
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child support
Unlike judges, mediators don’t determine who wins and who loses. Instead, they help the divorcing couple reach a solution on their own that works for them.
Mediation typically occurs in several stages: introduction, information gathering, private meetings with the mediator, negotiation, and a final resolution. It can take many mediation sessions before the parties reach a divorce agreement.
If the mediation is unsuccessful in bridging opposing positions, a couple can return to the more traditional adversarial process in which their lawyers will negotiate and litigate on their behalf.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Divorce Mediation? What’s a Legal Adviser’s Role?
While you don’t need to have a divorce lawyer in mediation, it can be a good idea to speak to one to know exactly what your legal rights are.
If you underestimate the strength of your legal position, you may “give away the farm;” on the other hand, if you drive too hard a bargain, you may cause the other party to walk away from negotiations.
Before starting mediation, it’s helpful to be familiar with your state’s laws on marital property, how child support is calculated, and so forth. An attorney can educate you on these matters.
An attorney can also assist you in the following ways:
- Explain the rules and procedures of mediation
- Help select a mediator (if the mediator isn’t chosen by the court)
- Prepare you for mediation
- Help you decide potential settlements
- Review a proposed settlement for missing details or other potential issues
- Prepare formal divorce paperwork if you reach a mediated settlement
- Be sure to have an attorney review any agreement hammered out in mediation sessions before you sign it.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work in Texas?
Texas doesn’t have any specific laws or rules on how divorce mediation takes place (except for its requirements for mediated agreements, discussed below). But most divorce mediations follow the same basic stages, including:
- an orientation
- identification of issues and gathering of information, and
At the end of the process, the mediator may help prepare a written agreement that reflects what you and your spouse have decided during the negotiations. Under Texas law, the mediated settlement agreement will be legally binding as soon as you and your spouse have signed it (along with your lawyers, if you have attorneys), but only if the agreement includes a prominent statement (boldfaced, capitalized, or underlined) that it is “not subject to revocation.”
That statement means that you and your spouse may not change your minds and must follow the provisions in the mediated agreement, even before you get a final divorce decree. This is true whether you signed the agreement during voluntary mediation (before or after filing for divorce) or court-ordered mediation.
Even when a judge has ordered you to participate in mediation, you aren’t required to reach an agreement, and the mediator may never force you to settle your disputes. If mediation is completely unsuccessful—or if you and your spouse agree on some issues but not others—your case will end up in a trial unless you later settle the unresolved issues.
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
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