Most Texans who have elected to end their marriages view the divorce process with a great deal of apprehension. Much of the apprehension is caused by having little knowledge about the divorce process and by the anticipated cost of paying an attorney to prepare and try the case before a judge. A little understood but very effective alternative to a full-fledged trial is divorce mediation. Understanding the basics of the mediation process can help reduce a person’s anxiety and save a great deal of money.
The basics of mediation
The Texas bar, the state legislature, and the state judges have devised a more or less standard mediation procedure. The key is using the services of a neutral third party who has been trained in the art of evaluating arguments and positions without taking sides. By remaining neutral, the mediator can retain the confidence of all parties and can make suggestions that will not be undercut by an appearance of partiality. Most mediators are either attorneys or retired judges who have significant experience in resolving disputes during the divorce process.
Personal approval required
The second important element of mediation is that neither party can be forced into accepting an agreement that he or she does not like. The mediator has no power to make decisions or force parties to agree to terms that they do not like. Mediators are trained to help parties find mutually agreeable solutions to their disputes, whether the dispute involves the couple’s children or division of assets or any of the other issues that frequently arise in a Texas divorce.
Mediation is cost-effective
Most parties to a divorce ask their attorneys to participate in the mediation process. Even considering the fees that an attorney might charge for helping with mediation, those fees will be far less than might be charged for the complete preparation and trial of the case. Most attorneys are willing to provide a comparison of the fees to allow their clients to make an informed choice.
Mediation is confidential
Mediations are strictly confidential. Nothing that is said in a mediation, whether by the mediator or one of the parties, can be used in a subsequent trial. For couples with significant assets, the confidentiality of the mediation process is a significant advantage to a public trial where all evidence is public.
Anyone wondering about mediation may wish to consult an experienced family law attorney about how the process works.