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How divorce mediation works in Texas

If you are beginning the divorce process in Texas, chances are that, at some stage, you will participate in mediation or another form of collaborative law. Though Texas law does not technically require divorce mediation, many county courts and/or individual judges have a policy of sending litigants to mediation, especially if the case involves children.

Mediation can offer a variety of benefits to a divorcing couple, as well as alleviate the burden on a court's schedule and resources. Knowing how the process works can help you approach it constructively.

Understanding the process

Mediation takes place before a neutral mediator, who typically has training in negotiation and in family law issues. Often, the parties may sit in separate rooms while the mediator goes back and forth to speak with each of them.

Mediators can help the parties come up with potential solutions to their problems, figure out their goals and establish communication. They cannot issue orders or compel the parties to agree to anything. Mediators may also not provide legal advice.

Common benefits

By dialing down the level of conflict and improving communication, mediation can set the stage for an agreement that covers all or some of the issues in dispute. For parents of minor children, the process can also help develop a constructive approach to co-parenting after divorce. Because it is a less formal process than litigation, mediation can save both parties substantial time and money. 

The other side of the coin

The characteristics that make mediation a more streamlined and cooperative process than litigation can also make it less than ideal under certain circumstances. If one party engages in deception such as hiding marital assets, mediators do not have the power to enforce discovery. If you think mediation may be counterproductive in your case, you may need to pursue litigation.

 

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