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.
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.