Unless you are filing for uncontested divorce, you can expect to spend some time in court. Unlike some other states, Texas law does not require divorcing couples to try mediation. While some Texas counties have this requirement, Harris County does not. However, the judge in your case can still order you to attend a number of mediation sessions.
If you receive such an order, it can help to understand how the process works and how you can benefit from it. If you are not able to resolve all disputes during mediation, you will continue with the litigation process.
What happens during mediation
A mediator is a trained third party who acts as a neutral facilitator, helping the parties improve communication and work towards a consensus. The mediator can help by assisting the parties in framing their goals and defining areas of potential compromise. He or she can suggest solutions. However, a mediator cannot take sides or order either party to do anything. You do not have the obligation to agree to any of the mediator's suggestions.
Even couples who disagree strongly can benefit from mediation if they approach the process in good faith. If you have children, it can be especially important to be able to communicate constructively, as you will need to continue to interact with your ex in the future and cooperate for the children's benefit. Mediation can de-escalate negativity and impart some effective communication techniques.
Situations where mediation can cause damage
In some situations, mediation can be harmful to you. In particular, you should be aware that if you suspect your soon-to-be-ex of financial or other dishonesty, mediation can be counter to your interests. If the other party has acted abusively in the past, a fair mediation may not be possible due to the potential power imbalance.
If you have concerns that mediation may harm you more than it can help, speak with your attorney. Your lawyer can discuss the situation with the judge and advocate for your interests.