Divorce and Mediation

A growing majority of family law cases whether they are divorce, child custody cases, or even cases involving Child Protective Services are being resolved outside of Court. Mediation is more and more prevalent and effective at resolving these types of cases.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a confidential process where the mediator attempts to guide, not dictate, settlement discussions of the parties involved in the case. When I say mediation is confidential, it is different than attorney-client confidentiality. What is said in mediation stays at mediation. The mediator cannot be a witness and neither side can say “well at mediation you agreed to….”

Mediation has a lot of benefits compared to going to Court to seek an order from a Judge. In mediation, the parties agree to anything they want including ways to split property and time with the children. The Judge in your case has only certain options under the law to dispose of property in a divorce, or ways in which decisions are made about any child issues.

One example is in mediation, the spouses in a divorce can agree to an alimony settlement. Under Texas Law, no Court can award alimony to any party in a divorce. The law requires that any settlement reached in mediation has to be signed by the Court in the final order which contains the terms of the mediated settlement agreement.

It is Extremely Important to Have a Lawyer with You at Mediation

First, the mediator, while nearly all of mediators in Texas are lawyers or former judges; they are NOT your lawyer. Each mediator will make this disclaimer at the beginning of mediation. Second, it is important to have an opinion from your own lawyer about what you may or may not get from the Judge handling your case. One way to assess whether or not the mediation offer of settlement is good is to compare it to what you may receive in Court. Most importantly for family law cases, if you do not have a lawyer at mediation, you may inadvertently agree to mediation agreement, which may not be enforceable in Court.

The Court has certain restrictions about how it can enforce an order from mediation. Any agreement or Court Order, which is not enforceable, is ultimately no good if there is no way to make sure the other side sticks to their agreement.

If you are thinking about going back to Court on a child custody issue or preparing for a divorce, please contact my office to discuss what I can do to help you and prepare to resolve your case in the most efficient and effective way possible.