In Texas, divorce mediation is an option for settling a divorce outside a traditional courtroom. It involves a trained mediator acting as a neutral go-between to enhance communication and help the parties reach a mutually acceptable marital settlement agreement.
Texas courts may require divorce mediation in cases involving custody issues or children’s visitation. This requirement varies by county. Consult an attorney to determine if mediation is required in your Texas county.
Although they may not be required, it is always a good idea for both parties to be represented by an attorney before entering mediation. If an attorney represents one spouse, it is crucial for the other spouse to seek an attorney for representation in the divorce.
Texas Divorce Mediation Lawyer
For help navigating the mediation process, please reach out to dedicated divorce mediation attorney Matthew Horak at Horak Law. He has over a decade of experience helping Texans undergo the divorce process and can provide the necessary guidance you need to achieve the most satisfactory possible outcome.
Horak Law has two locations in Houston and The Woodlands, but we also accept clients in Harris County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, and Liberty County, Texas. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 or submit an online contact form to schedule your first consultation.
- When Does Divorce Mediation Occur In Texas?
- What Are The Possible Outcomes Of Divorce Mediation In Texas?
- What Are The Benefits Of Divorce Mediation?
- What Are The Potential Drawbacks To Divorce Mediation?
- What If There Is A History Of Violence?
- Additional Resources
When Does Divorce Mediation Occur In Texas?
Mediation is an option at any point in the divorce process in Texas. A divorce can be resolved by mediation without ever setting foot in a courtroom, or a divorce can be referred to mediation at any point in the court process.
Mediation is especially encouraged when children are involved. It is better for the spouses to work out custody of the children amicably rather than leave it up to a judge. This can reduce the emotional toll on not just the spouses but also the children. In some Texas counties, there is a requirement that divorces involving issues over children must be attempted to be resolved by mediation before they can go through court.
All issues of divorce can be settled via divorce mediation. These include child custody, child visitation, division of property, and alimony (also known as spousal support).
What Are The Possible Outcomes Of Divorce Mediation In Texas?
Successful divorce mediation will result in a document called a mediated settlement agreement that resolves all divorce issues. It is also possible to reach a resolution for some but not all of the issues at mediation and have the remaining issues resolved in court.
Another possibility for any particular mediation session is that it will end with a recess—the parties will temporarily leave the mediation with the intention to reconvene at another time. Sometimes, recess is merely a break, and the mediation will resume on the next business day. In other cases, a recess may last longer as one or both parties gather additional documents or mull over a proposal.
An unsuccessful mediation will result in an impasse. This means no agreement is reached, and the parties will return to court. In this case, anything presented or discussed at the mediation will not be a part of the court record, and nothing that occurred at the mediation should be brought up in court.
What Are The Benefits Of Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a less contentious process than litigation. Mediation can lead to an amicable divorce if both parties are willing to reach a resolution. Mediation can also result in a better long-term relationship between the spouses because they each feel that they agreed to the settlement, not that one spouse won and the other lost. This preservation of the relationship is paramount if children are involved.
Mediation is, in most cases, less expensive than a court proceeding. Even resolving some but not all of the issues in the divorce can save money.
Mediation is often a much faster process than litigation. There are a limited number of family court judges handling many different cases. Mediators typically have a much more flexible schedule and less on their plates.
Also, remember that you and your spouse know more about your case, your assets, and your children than anyone else. Even after a protracted trial, the court will not know the facts of your situation as well as you do. Mediation gives you more control over the outcome of your divorce.
What Are The Potential Drawbacks To Divorce Mediation?
If the relationship between the spouses is very combative, mediation is unlikely to provide much help. In these cases, mediation may waste everyone’s time and money.
There is no guarantee of a “fair” outcome. Although both parties must agree to the settlement, there is no judge weighing the terms’ fairness. If a spouse later changes their mind, there is little recourse, even if the terms are objectively unequal. Generally, the only way to get around a mediated settlement agreement is if there was outright fraud by one party or if significant assets were omitted from the process.
There is not a discovery process as there is in court. In mediation, there is generally no formal process for requesting documents or cross-examining witnesses. It may be more difficult to find hidden assets during a mediation process.
What If There Is A History Of Violence?
If there is a history of family violence or domestic violence between the parties, the victim of the violence can object to mediation. This may result in the divorce staying in court or in special measures being taken to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the objecting party.
Mediation is unlikely to be successful if there is an imbalance of power between the spouses. Thus, mediation is not recommended if there is a history of domestic violence, intimidation, or bullying by one spouse to the other.
How Long Does Mediation Last?
There is no one answer to this question. A relatively simple divorce with known assets and no children may be resolved in less than a day. A more contentious case involving children and many assets may last several days. At a certain point, it will become apparent to all involved that a mediation agreement is unlikely ever to be reached, and the case will be returned to court.
Divorce and Mediation – This article, written by the non-profit group Texas Law Help, describes the divorce mediation process in Texas.
Harris County Family Courts — Access this website to view the family courts in Harris County by judge.
Houston Divorce Mediation Attorney | Harris County, TX
To discuss whether mediation may be a positive step in the resolution of your divorce, contact Horak Law. Family law attorney Matthew Horak will take a look at your goals, your assets, and your unique family dynamics to help you determine the best course of action.
Call Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 to schedule a free consultation. Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston, TX.