In many divorce consultations at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, a common misconception we encounter is the belief that divorce inevitably ends up in court with a judge making all decisions. While this can happen, it’s not the typical outcome.
Most divorces conclude through mediation, where both parties negotiate and settle all aspects of their case, sparing them a courtroom showdown. If you’re unfamiliar with mediation, let’s explore its role and how it can help you avoid a stressful, court-intensive divorce.
What Is Mediation in a Texas Divorce?
Mediation involves an independent third party, usually a family law attorney, selected by both divorcing parties to facilitate the resolution of disputed issues. This can include child custody, conservatorship, property division, and more.
Consider any issue you believe a judge would need to decide in your divorce. A mediator acts as an intermediary between you and your spouse, eliminating the need for judicial intervention.
Typically, you, your attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and the mediator set a date for mediation at the mediator’s office. Each party remains in separate rooms, and the mediator shuttles between the rooms to facilitate negotiations.
If, for example, you can’t agree on a visitation schedule, the mediator helps brainstorm solutions that both sides can accept. Similarly, if property division poses challenges, the mediator can assist in finding common ground.
Is Mediation Mandatory Before Going to Court?
Some clients believe their spouses are uncooperative, making mediation seem futile. However, in many southeast Texas counties, mediation is required before temporary orders hearings and trials. Courts prioritize mediation because of its high success rate and the burden on the court system.
So, even if you doubt your spouse’s willingness to cooperate, most courts mandate mediation. The belief that spouses are unyielding during divorce is common but often disproven during the mediation process.
Advantages of Mediation Over Court Proceedings
Two significant advantages favor mediation over court hearings:
1. Cost Savings: Mediation typically costs between $300 and $500 for a half-day session with a private mediator in Harris County. Costs may vary based on the mediator’s experience. In contrast, contested hearings or trials can be five to ten times more expensive in attorney fees and preparation time.
2. Tailored Resolutions: You and your spouse know your family best. When you work together in mediation, you can craft agreements that suit your unique circumstances and preferences. A judge, bound by Texas Family Code and its laws, has limited flexibility to accommodate individual needs.
While a judge will listen to testimony and make decisions, these decisions may not fully satisfy either party. Judges often divide property evenly and adhere to standard possession orders for children. If you want a more personalized, flexible agreement that considers your specific circumstances, mediation offers the best chance of achieving it.
Need Answers about Divorce Mediation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have questions about divorce, mediation, or any family law matters in Texas, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to answer your questions and discuss our firm’s services.
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Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.