What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process that brings two spouses together to negotiate their divorce settlement with the help of their own lawyers and a trained mediator. Most counties in Texas require parties to attend mediation prior to setting a final trial on the court docket. Mediation is an alternative to a lengthier and more expensive divorce process. For many, divorce mediation has been an effective approach to finalizing their divorce.

What Makes it a Good and Often-Successful Alternative?

For parties seeking a resolution of their divorce in an economical manner, mediation may be the process to consider. Mediation can help both parties avoid the emotional and financial stress that divorce court trials can bring. The biggest benefit of divorce mediation is that the parties make the ultimate decision in mediation. If a divorce case goes to trial, the judge makes the decision for the parties. At mediation, the parties, through their attorneys, can discuss matters and potentially reach an agreement with the help of their legal counsel and a trained family law mediator.

Where and How Does Divorce Mediation Take Place?

Mediation offers a different setting from that of a courtroom for discussions, often in a comfortable and private room in a law office. The two spouses are separated into private spaces with their respective attorneys. The mediator meets with each side, and goes back and forth with information and offers from the opposing side. Sometimes the mediator has a meeting with both attorneys.

Getting Started

To get started, the mediator will need financial information from both parties. Usually each party’s attorney prepares a division of marital property spreadsheet based on the marital estate. Each attorney also prepares a mediation position letter to the mediator prior to the mediation to convey background information, points of contention and what the spouse wants to achieve.

The Process

Both parties and their attorneys will speak directly with the mediator numerous times during the day. The goal is to ensure both parties have an understanding of what each wants out of the divorce. Afterward, the mediator will work with both parties to negotiate a resolution for each issue.

Common Issues Discussed During Mediations

Child Custody

During mediation, both parties, through their attorneys and the mediator, discuss and potentially come to an agreement about child custody. The visitation schedule, vacation and holiday schedule are established. Although Texas has some standard options for visitation, an experienced family law mediator will be able to assist the parties and their attorneys into crafting an equitable but flexible custody schedule.

Child Support

During mediation, the attorneys present evidence of what the child support should be. Although Texas has guideline support calculations, there are additional factors that will be presented regarding the child(ren)s proven needs. An experienced family law mediator will have the specialized knowledge required to help facilitate an equitable Child Support agreement.

Property Division

Separating marital property is a very detailed process and mediation can help you avoid a lengthy trial to resolve the matter. We recommend that your mediator be a family law mediator, intimately familiar with family law. We select our mediators based on the client’s situation, and prefer to use mediators that have clout, like former family law judges or attorneys that are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Dividing a marital estate and providing guidance on the separate property of the spouses requires an expert in family law property.

Spousal Support

Mediation can help both parties understand the purpose and goals behind spousal support. Both spouses will present factors that need to be considered regarding an award of spousal support including property and earning capacity.

What Happens After Mediation?

At the end of a successful mediation, both parties and their attorneys sign a mediated settlement agreement (MSA). This agreement is irrevocable except in extraordinary circumstances. The MSA is filed with the court. The attorneys decide who will be preparing the Final Decree of Divorce. The drafting attorney will prepare the proposed Final Decree of Divorce and send it to their client for comments. After the client’s comments are incorporated into the document, it will be sent to the opposing attorney for review and comments. When the documents reflects terms of the MSA, the decree will be signed and one party and their attorney will go to court to prove up the divorce.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may decide to schedule another mediation. If not, the mediator files an unsuccessful certificate of mediation with the court. The case is set for final trial.

Take a Mindful Approach to Divorce through Mediation

Divorce mediation gives both parties the opportunity to come to a settlement agreement on their terms. Resolving the major factors of your divorce with mediation can help you reduce the emotional and financial stress of trial. At Vaught Law Firm, we have experienced family law attorneys that can speak to you about options for your divorce including mediation. Contact us online or call us at 512-710-2314 to get started with a consultation today!

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