The image of divorce from TV and movies is that the husband and wife will inevitably wind up in a courtroom arguing with one another over every last issue of their marriage. Attorneys on TV are nasty to one another and not much better to their clients. Judges are disaffected and end up falling asleep in open court when the subject matter becomes the least bit dry.
Fortunately this is not the case for most Texas divorces. Parties to the majority of divorces figure out quickly that in order to resolve their cases sooner rather than later constantly fighting over non essential items is not advisable. Allowing the parties to discuss the issues in the hopes of arriving at a settlement is by far the most desirable way to go about divorcing your spouse. The Houston divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan encourage their clients to attend mediation both at the beginning and end of their cases in order to avoid courtroom appearances.
The Basics of Mediation
Mediation is a confidential process meaning that the results of mediation are not made available through the District Clerk’s office. The parties enlist a third party who acts as a neutral intermediary to assist them in resolving any outstanding issue of their divorce case. The analogy that I will use with clients is to compare a mediator to a ping pong ball.
The parties send the mediator back and forth between them in order to fine tune potential agreements and to generally avoid the need to litigate a case if it can be avoided. A mediator does this by helping both sides to see the strengths and weaknesses of their cases in advance of actually going before a judge/
Who can act as a mediator?
Mediators in family law cases are often (not surprisingly) practicing family law attorneys. In the event that a judge orders the parties to mediate the case it is likely that he or she will name an attorney whom they have a high degree of trust in to mediate the case.
Theoretically anyone can mediate a family law case but typically it will be an attorney with experience in mediation. This is due to the fact that there are many issues in a divorce or child custody case that need to be dealt with in certain ways that are best handled by a professional.
What is covered in mediation?
All the subjects that a final decree of divorce covers will be discussed in mediation. This includes division of the marital estate, child custody and support. From personal experience I can say that when the parties attempt to negotiate directly with one another or if they even use their attorneys to do so, the conversation can get sidetracked pretty easily.
Another benefit of using a mediator is that the conversation will be focused on the issues at hand. There will be no using past wrongs against the spouse in mediation because the mediator controls the way that information is communicated in a mediation.
The mediator will make known to both parties that they will keep any communication confidential if one party asks to not repeat it to the other side. If the parties come to an agreement on any subject in mediator the mediator will create a document called a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA).
That MSA will be used as the blueprint to draft an Order that a Judge can sign and approve of. Two items need to be mentioned as this stage. First off- a mediator is an independent party who can provide general advice but is not in a position to be able to advise either party on any particular issue.
Second- the mediator cannot be called to testify in front of the judge on any disputed issues that are not settled at mediation. Basically- you can’t call the mediator, ask him or her if they remember the issue that is being disputed and then ask them to testify so a judge understands better the particular issue.
Attitude is everything when it comes to Mediation
If I had a nickel for every time a client told me that their spouse was the most stubborn person on the planet and that mediation had no shot at working I could buy you lunch. It makes complete sense that in the midst of a contentious and difficult process like a divorce or a custody case that people wouldn’t be overly optimistic about the chances of a dispute being resolved without seeing a judge.
The simple fact that the parties are going through a court case means that a simple negotiation would not work for them and that an additional means of resolving a dispute was needed.
With that all being said, if I had another nickel for every person who said their case would never settle and then actually did I could buy you another lunch. The fact remains that as parties get deeper into a case they are more likely to want to save time, money and effort by working with the opposing party to settle their case. Having an experienced family law mediator and an attorney on your side to help you keep the right perspective during mediation is incredibly important.
Careful Consideration should be given when deciding which attorney to hire
In order to avoid the possibility to a prolonged, expensive and tedious family law case it is worthwhile to figure out what goals you want to accomplish and to hire an attorney that you believe can best help you reach those goals.
When it comes to a family law attorney in southeast Texas who knows the courts, and more importantly, knows how to avoid them, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is at the top of the list. Our lawyers practice from Chambers to Waller and all points in between. To learn more about our office and how we can assist you and your family please contact us today and schedule a free of charge consultation with one of our Houston divorce lawyers.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.