What Are the Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation in Texas?
Divorce mediation is a common alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method that helps spouses resolve their disputed issues on their own without going to court.
While many divorcing couples voluntarily try divorce mediation to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, others are required to participate in mediation. Many Texas counties require couples to try mediation before going to court.
You should review the pros and cons of divorce mediation if you are considering trying this ADR method to resolve your issues with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. It is in your best interests to consult with a Georgetown divorce lawyer to understand your options and determine whether you can benefit from participating in mediation sessions in your particular case.
The Pros of Divorce Mediation in Texas
Reasons why you should try divorce mediation to resolve your contested issues and avoid going to court include:
1. You can save money
Mediation is typically less expensive than divorce litigation. You can avoid a great deal of legal and court fees and other expenses if you opt for mediation to work out a marital settlement agreement (MSA) with your spouse.
2. You can save time
Divorce litigation is usually a time-consuming and stressful process. Previously, we discussed how long it takes to obtain a divorce in Texas. If you and your spouse choose mediation over litigation, you may be able to finalize your divorce much faster.
3. You have more control over the outcome
One of the most notable advantages of divorce mediation is that the divorcing couple controls how decisions are made throughout the process. The same cannot be said about traditional divorce litigation where the couple is at the mercy of a court judge.
4. You can improve communication with your spouse
Not only does mediation allow the couple to be the decision-makers in their own divorce case, but it can also improve communication between the spouses. This is a major advantage if you have children because you will have to maintain effective communication to share custody.
5. You will participate in a confidential process
Another great thing about mediation is that, unlike traditional divorce litigation, mediation is a confidential process. Anything you and your spouse discuss during mediation sessions will be kept confidential.
The Cons of Divorce Mediation in Texas
Reasons why you may not benefit from participating in divorce mediation include:
1. The mediator will not provide legal advice
This can be a significant drawback for those who represent themselves at mediation. A mediator is a neutral party who merely facilitates the negotiation process but does not make decisions for you or provide legal advice. If you want to secure your best interests at mediation, it is vital to have a Georgetown divorce lawyer in your corner.
2. Mediation may not work for you
Unfortunately, mediation is not for everyone. If your spouse is manipulative, abusive, dishonest, or uncooperative, mediation may not be the best option for you. In this situation, taking your divorce case to court may be a better solution to ensure a fair outcome.
3. It can get out of control
Since mediation is an informal process, mediation sessions can get out of control, especially if your spouse keeps making unreasonable demands but is not willing to compromise. If this sounds like your situation, it is essential to be represented by an experienced divorce attorney to protect your rights during mediation.
4. Your spouse can hide assets
If your spouse is attempting to hide assets to avoid sharing them with you, the mediator may never find out about those hidden assets. For this reason, it is critical to hire a skilled attorney to conduct an independent investigation and use the discovery process to identify all assets to which you are entitled in your Texas divorce.
How Does the Mediation Process Work in Texas?
As mentioned earlier, some counties in Texas require divorcing couples to try mediation to resolve their issues before going to court. This is known as “mandatory mediation.” Voluntary mediation is when the couple voluntarily participates in mediation sessions. Either way, the mediation process works as follows:
The selection process. The spouses select a neutral family law mediator.
The preliminary meeting. The parties meet with the mediator for the first time. This is also known as the preliminary meeting. During the first meeting, the mediator will find out about the disagreements and disputes and also explain to the parties the mediation rules and guidelines.
The mediation sessions. During the second and subsequent meetings, the mediator will facilitate negotiations between the parties to help them resolve their disputes and reach a divorce settlement. At this stage, mediation proceeds with the parties in separate rooms. The mediator will go from one room to another to convey information back and forth.
The agreement. When the parties reach an agreement on all disputed issues, the mediator will draft a legally binding agreement. The agreement will be submitted to the court judge for approval. It is vital to have an experienced divorce lawyer on your side to review the terms of the proposed agreement to protect your rights and best interests.
If no agreement is reached between the parties, the divorce case will proceed to court. If the parties were able to reach an agreement on some issues, the parties would have to resolve the remaining issues in court.
How Long Does the Mediation Process Take?
The duration of the mediation process depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:
The number of disputed issues;
The complexity of the issues involved;
The willingness of both parties to compromise to reach an agreement; and
The experience and negotiation skills of the attorneys representing each party.
It could take just a few weeks (or even days) to reach an agreement within one or two mediation sessions, or it could take several months to resolve all issues over the course of three, four, five, or more sessions.
Speak with an experienced Georgetown divorce lawyer to determine the pros and cons of divorce mediation in your particular case. Our detail-oriented and dedicated attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard will review your unique situation to determine whether you should try mediation in your case. Call 254-501-4040 or visit our contact us page to schedule a free initial consultation.