Mediation is frequently successful for divorcing couples in large part because the mediation process allows for a more informal setting and encourages input from the divorcing spouses. Mediation also allows for parties to be more creative in forming a solution that will work for their particular situation.
The parties and their attorneys can agree on a competent mediator, or have the court choose one for them. Family law mediators typically have extensive experience as practicing family law attorneys and/or as former family law judges. During the mediation, each person will have a chance to describe his or her view of the case to the mediator and make offers to settle all or part of the dispute.
The mediator will discuss these facts and offers with each party in an attempt to facilitate a compromise. All of the communications with the mediator are confidential, and the mediator can only disclose to the judge whether the parties did or did not reach an agreement.
Houston Divorce Mediation
At The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, our Houston divorce attorneys provide highly effective representation for clients participating in divorce mediations. During the process of any family law proceeding, there is a high likelihood that the court will require the parties to attend mediation. The general purpose of family law mediation is to facilitate an agreement between the parties on disputed issues.
There has been an increase in the number of Texas family and divorce courts that mandate parties to attempt to form agreements through mediation prior to going to hearing on temporary orders and/or trial.
Generally, persons involved in family law litigation have much more flexibility to enter into creative and tailored solutions to the issues involved in the lawsuit if they do so at mediation. The court can order the parties to mediation.
However, it cannot mandate that the parties reach a compromise. If a compromise cannot be reached, the litigants must then submit their disagreement to the court and the judge will make a ruling.
Mediation is Confidential
In order to encourage people to negotiate in mediation Texas rules of procedure provide that mediation is confidential. In other words what happens in mediation, stays at mediation. This means that any offers that are communicated during mediation cannot be used as evidence in future any future court hearings.
Agreements Reached in Mediation are Final
If an agreement is reached in mediation it will be reduced to writing in a document called a mediated settlement agreement. The parties and their respective attorneys execute the mediated settlement agreement.
That mediated settlement agreement (MSA) becomes a contractually binding agreement that cannot be changed absent a showing of fraud, or coercion or duress in the procurement of the mediated settlement agreement.
One of the most important Texas Supreme Court cases on this matter was “In re Lee” which upheld a mediated settlement agreement in a family law case.
The Judge in “In re Lee” refused to enter judgment based on the agreement. Mother filed a motion to enter judgment, while Father filed to withdraw his consent to the agreement. The Judge heard testimony and concluded that the agreement was NOT in the best interest of the child and refused to enter judgment.
The Texas Supreme Court holds that the statutory language which makes mediated settlement agreements in family law cases irrevocable and a trial court may not deny a motion to enter judgment on a properly executed mediated agreement. So a trial court will not have grounds to set aside a mediated agreement just because the trial court disagrees with the agreement reached.
The Court held that the mediation rule – Texas Family Code section 153.0071 – trumps over any conflicting statute because the mediation statute uses the language “notwithstanding… another rule of law.”
Prepare for Divorce Mediation
At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan we believe the best way to settle any type of family law lawsuit is to be prepared prior to going through the mediation process. One of the things we will discuss during our initial consultation is what things we will need in order to be prepared for mediation.
Prior to mediation we will ask you to bring us the most recent financial statements of any bank account, retirement account, stocks, as well as any documents evidencing debt. Blue book values on automobiles, boats and other vehicles are valuable as well.
If children are involved, it is important to bring us personal calendars that chronicle the children’s activities and any relevant events that have occurred during or immediately prior to the litigation.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas 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 Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston 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 Houston, Texas, Cypress, 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.