Not all divorces need to generate a storm of bitter litigation. While not everyone can just sit down and come up with an agreement that works for both parties, you may wish to explore alternatives that fall somewhere in the middle. Divorce mediation, in particular, is gaining popularity for divorcing couples in many states, including Texas. Some counties even require couples to try mediation before litigating.
How it works
During mediation, the couple meets with a trained mediator who facilitates discussion and helps the parties reach a meeting of minds. Mediators often have specialized mediation training as well as general experience in the field of family law.
Benefits to mediating
Mediation provides a neutral setting and someone to guide the discussion into productive channels. Divorcing couples, left to themselves, often fall prey to emotion and discord, making constructive dicussion difficult. Unlike litigation, mediation is a fairly flexible process, both in terms of scheduling and in terms of available solutions. Finally, mediation usually costs less than litigation. Even if mediation does not resolve all of your issues, it helps take some of them off the table before you go to court.
Limits and potential pitfalls
Mediators may not offer legal advice or take one party’s side. Even though mediation means a deescalation of confrontational attitudes, you may want to have your attorney at your side at all times. Your lawyer can give you explanations and advise you with your best interests in mind.
A mediator also has no legal power to compel any of the parties to do anything. This means that he or she cannot make someone produce evidence or agree to anything. For this reason, if you suspect your spouse will not approach mediation in good faith, you may opt to proceed straight to litigation, especially if you have concerns about him or her taking advantage of delays to dispose of evidence or transfer assets.
Mediation offers many benefits, but may not suit every divorcing couple. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney near you to get all the facts to make an informed decision.