Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?

Wooden figurines representing a divorcing couple attending mediation

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If you are facing a divorce and are at the point where negotiations have stalled – or if they never got off the ground in the first place – mediation may be the answer.

While mediation can be an effective means of resolving divorce terms without needing the court’s intervention, it’s not the answer in every situation. The better you understand divorce mediation, the better prepared you will be to determine if it's right for you and your unique circumstances.

Turn to an experienced Austin divorce attorney for the skilled legal guidance you are looking for.


Mediation takes a non-adversarial approach to resolving divorce or post-divorce disputes. If you are able to resolve all of your unresolved divorce terms during mediation, your divorce will be uncontested. This accomplishment means that you and your spouse retained decision-making authority and didn’t require the court’s intervention, which is generally the goal.

The Mediator

Mediation involves a professional mediator in the role of a neutral third party. Mediators have extensive training in and experience with dispute resolution, and their goal is to help couples cut through conflict to make informed decisions that serve their own best interests.

The Mediation Process

The mediation process involves you, your divorcing spouse, both of your divorce attorneys, and the mediator. Generally, the mediator goes back and forth between spouses, sharing each one’s position, offers, or concessions with the other until an agreement is reached. The mediator also shares how the court is likely to rule in the case, which can serve as a solid starting point for negotiations.

The Goal

The goal of mediation is finding middle ground for the divorce terms that you haven’t been able to resolve through negotiations between yourselves – under the guidance of your respective divorce lawyers. If your divorce mediation is successful, you’ll hammer out terms that you are both willing to sign off on – effectively keeping your divorce case out of court in the process.

The Cost

Austin mediation generally costs much less than going to court because your Austin divorce attorney won’t need to do the extensive prep work that court requires. However, he or she will need to be well acquainted with the details of your case to help protect your parental and financial rights throughout the process. The cost of hiring a professional mediator is typically split between the spouses.

The Terms Resolved

You can address any of your divorce terms that remain unresolved at mediation – whether that means one term, a few terms, or all of them. The more terms you need to resolve at mediation, the more extensive you should expect the process to be.

Legal Custody and Parenting Time

If you and your divorcing parent share children, legal custody and parenting time are no doubt primary concerns. If you’ve been unable to negotiate terms that work for both of you, you can address the matter at mediation.

Legal Custody

Legal custody determines how you and your ex will address the big-picture parenting decisions that guide your children’s upbringing, including decisions related to the following matters:

  • Where your children make their primary home

  • Where your children attend school or daycare

  • The medical care your children receive

  • The religious education your children receive

  • The extracurriculars and travel your children participate in

When it comes to legal custody, you have a range of options:

  • You and your ex sharing legal custody jointly

  • You and your ex sharing legal custody, with one of you retaining the authority to break a tie in the event that you can’t reach an agreement

  • You and your ex dividing these decisions between you according to category

  • Either you or your ex taking on sole legal custody and making these decisions alone

The decisions that need to be made on a regular basis or in the event of an emergency must be made by the parent who is available at the time.

Parenting Time

Parenting time – or physical custody – sets the schedule by which you and your ex will divide your time with your children. Texas courts are guided by the children’s best interests, which usually means affording both parents a considerable amount of parenting time.

One of you may become the primary custodial parent while the other has a visitation schedule, or you may take a 50/50 approach. There are a range of parenting time schedules that accommodate the children’s needs while affording parents quality time with their kids, which generally includes alternating weekends.

Mediators tend to be adept at helping parents explore unique scheduling options that they may not have even considered.

Child Support

While child support is determined in accordance with state calculation guidelines, this doesn’t mean that the matter is set in stone. When there are no extenuating circumstances, child support is typically calculated according to state guidelines – with little wiggle room for discrepancies to arise.

There are instances when courts will order child support outside of the state guidelines. Examples include when a child has special needs, when one parent provides full-time care for a child, or when any other extraordinary circumstances apply. In these instances, child support can be resolved through mediation.

The Division of Marital Property

Those assets that you and your spouse came to own while you were married are considered marital, and upon divorce, they must be divided between you in a manner that is considered just and right. According to Texas laws, this designation means fairly when a range of factors like the following are taken into consideration:

  • The size of the overall estate and each spouse’s separate estate

  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including raising the children and caring for the home

  • Tax considerations for the proposed property division

  • Any asset hiding or any other form of fraud on the community estate

The separate property that either spouse brought into the marriage remains separate property only if it was kept strictly separate throughout the marriage. Commingling marital and separate assets can blur the line between them. The division of marital property has the potential to be one of the most hotly contested divorce terms, and it is frequently addressed at mediation.


When divorce leaves one spouse unable to maintain the same standard of living achieved during the marriage and the other spouse has the financial ability to help, alimony may be ordered. The goal of alimony is to enable the recipient to gain financial independence through education, job training, or the acquisition of job skills. Issues related to alimony often find their way into mediation.

The Upside of Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation in Austin, Texas, isn’t always the answer, but there is much to recommend it when the circumstances are right. Discuss your case with your Austin divorce lawyer to see if mediation is a good fit for you.

Divorce Mediation Is Private

Most divorcing couples would prefer not to air their dirty laundry in public. When a divorce goes to trial, it is a matter of public record, and the information divulged therein becomes public information. Divorce is a very private matter that involves very sensitive information, and this fact helps motivate many divorcing couples to go all in with mediation to keep divorce private.

Divorce Mediation Keeps Decision-Making between the Two of You

Divorce requires the resolution of primary terms that will directly affect your post-divorce future and that represent your financial and parental rights. As such, you probably don’t want a judge who knows nothing about you to resolve these terms on your behalf – when you’re perfectly capable of doing so.

Whenever possible, divorcing couples would typically prefer to keep this decision-making authority where it belongs – between themselves. Mediation helps many couples accomplish this goal.

Divorce Mediation Sets the Stage for Open Communication

The highs and lows of divorce can leave the involved parties at a standstill, which can translate to an utter lack of communication between them. Mediation is set up to allow open communication between both spouses, which can afford them the space necessary to negotiate terms that make sense for them.

In addition, communications during mediation aren’t face to face but, instead, are facilitated by a mediator who goes back and forth between the spouses. This negotiation arrangement can help immensely.

Divorce Mediation Is Less Formal than Court

The court process is very formal and comes with an immense amount of stress. If your divorce is resolved in court, the matter will proceed on the court’s terms, and you are required to abide by these terms.

Mediation is a far more casual matter. While you will need to get down to business and the process can be exhausting, there aren’t any restrictive rules or regulations that you’ll need to follow. You are allowed to speak for yourself, and you retain the authority to make decisions on your own behalf. All of these factors are generally considered good things.

Divorce Mediation Tends to Be Less Costly and Less Time-Consuming than Going to Court

Preparing for mediation is considerably less arduous than preparing for court, which can save you money. Mediation isn’t scheduled through the court’s overcrowded docket, which means that there is a good chance that you’ll also be able to put the matter behind you more quickly.

When Divorce Mediation Isn’t Advised

While divorce mediation has a lot to offer, it isn’t always the way to go.

If Your Divorce Terms Can Be Resolved between You

While mediation saves many couples from going to court, not every divorcing couple needs mediation. If you and your divorcing spouse are bickering over small matters, a bit of negotiating between your divorce attorneys may be all you need to reach an agreement and finalize your divorce.

Some couples have a hard time letting go and simply need a nudge in the right direction to keep things moving along.

If Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets

If you’re concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets or engaging in any other form of financial trickery, mediation isn’t the place to explore the matter. Your financial rights are on the line, and the court has far more muscle when it comes to requiring a deep dive into your marital finances and ensuring that you receive what is rightfully yours.

If Your Spouse Is More Interested in Making Trouble than in Resolving Terms

If you have the distinct impression that your divorcing spouse is far more interested in perpetuating divorce drama than in resolving divorce terms, mediation is unlikely to get you anywhere. In situations like yours, cutting your losses and heading directly to court is almost certainly the best approach.

If Your Spouse Is Abusive

If your spouse is abusive – whether emotionally, physically, or financially – mediation won’t change this fact. The truth is that mediation provides your spouse with an opportunity to perpetuate abuse on one level or another – with very little chance of effecting a fair resolution of terms.

For mediation to be effective, both parties to mediation must be committed to the process, which includes engaging in fair negotiations. This requirement is generally beyond the capabilities of abusers. When you go to court, your divorcing spouse will be required to act with decorum, and your financial and parental rights will be far better protected.

Seek the Trusted Legal Guidance of an Experienced Austin Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce mediation can be highly effective and is often a good choice, but this is not always the case. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is an accomplished Austin divorce lawyer who dedicates his practice to fiercely protecting his valued clients' financial and parental rights and finding the best path forward for them – whether that includes mediation or not.

To learn more about what our esteemed legal team can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 to schedule your FREE consultation today.

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