Texas Divorce Mediation Lawyers
Typically in a Texas divorce, the judge requires the spouses to attempt to resolve their case in divorce mediation before trial. Mediation is a settlement conference between the parties and a neutral mediator who tries to bring the parties together in an agreement. If the parties reach an agreement in divorce mediation, then the court can order the agreement as the final outcome of the divorce. To effectively mediate your divorce, you need an experienced divorce attorney on your side who can advise you on the fairness of an agreement and what terms you should pursue as an agreed resolution.
Legal representation for divorce mediation
Divorce mediation is an increasingly common way to resolve a divorce in Texas. It is far cheaper than taking your divorce to trial. It also allows the spouses to decide the outcome of the divorce instead of a judge or jury. Although a divorce mediation may be a cheaper and better route to resolve your divorce, it is not necessarily an easy path.
Often in mediation people just want to get to the finish line and settle. That is not the best strategy to protect yourself financially or protect your children. You and your attorney should come in with a clear plan for what you should accept as an outcome that is consistent with your goals, Texas family law, the risks of not reaching a settlement and what the other side practically should accept. Mediation is a negotiation process and your divorce attorney needs to treat it as a strategic event in your case.
How does divorce mediation work in Texas?
In Texas family courts typically require spouses to go to mediation and attempt to settle their divorce before a trial takes place. Mediation involves you, your spouse and both of your attorneys meeting with a professional mediator to try to reach an agreement. Usually each side occupies a separate room and the mediator shuttles between the rooms. The mediator will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each case and present proposals from the other side. This will continue until either you reach a settlement or it is clear there will be no settlement.
Mediation will address all of the core issues in your divorce including:
- Property division
- Spousal support/alimony
- Child custody
- Child support
If mediation succeeds in reaching a settlement then the mediator prepares a mediated settlement agreement outlining the agreement. The parties can then prepare an agreed final decree of divorce incorporating the mediated settlement agreement. Once the judge signs the divorce decree then the divorce is finalized and complete. If mediation fails, the parties will inform the judge of the failure to reach an agreement.
Is mediation a better resolution for my divorce?
Mediation does not always result in a better result. There is a chance you could do better at trial; however, there is also a risk you walk away with a less favorable result. Mediation puts the parties in the driver’s seat to decide the outcome. It can be better for the parties overall for that reason.
Mediation also offers several advantages over taking your divorce to trial. These include:
- Less expensive: mediating a case is significantly cheaper than a trial. The attorney’s fees alone are significantly less.
- Reduces conflict between parents: trials are emotional and combative. That can drive conflict and anger between the parents that lasts long after the divorce. Often one or both parents feel like they lost a trial because the outcome was not what they wanted. By mediating the case the parents have control and can take ownership over at least some of the outcome.
- Confidentiality: what happens in mediation stays in mediation. The mediator cannot testify as a witness to anything that happened. It is an opportunity to privately address issues.
Your divorce attorney can talk to you about whether mediation is a good option in your case and what would be a worthwhile agreement in the end. Sometimes mediation is not a good process in a divorce and ultimately no matter how much you participate in good faith your divorce may still require a trial.
Do I have to hire a divorce lawyer for a divorce mediation?
It is certainly to your benefit to hire a divorce attorney to represent you throughout your divorce and through mediation. Your divorce attorney can advise you about the fairness of an agreement, potential problems down the road and the probable result of litigating your divorce. Unless you are an experienced divorce attorney it will be difficult for you to adequately inform yourself on these issues.
Around Texas there is a growing industry of non-attorneys who try to interject themselves into divorces and claim to advocate for people. Many law firms in Texas end up taking clients who hired these non-attorneys and need an attorney to try to fix the problem. Unfortunately in many cases there are not always options to undo the result of a mediation or divorce.