Mediation and Divorce: The Whys and How of It Will Impact Your Case

For the better part of a week, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have shared with you all advice and perspective on divorce cases in Texas. We acknowledge that every divorce is unique. What affects you may not be relevant one bit to what affects your neighbor who is also going through a divorce. However, we are doing our best to include bits of wisdom that will apply to most if not all divorces in Texas. In southeast Texas, it’s a requirement to attend at least one session of mediation before going to court for a divorce without exception. Wondering about the whys and how and how mediation will impact your Texas divorce? Read on.

Mediation is a simple process where you and your spouse agree to appoint a third-party attorney to oversee a formal settlement negotiation between you both. Mediation would take place at the third-party attorney鈥檚 office. You and your spouse would be in separate rooms with your attorneys and the mediator would act like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between you and your spouse. The end goal is to help initiate settlement negotiations, dialogue, and creative problem solving on any issues that have kept your divorce from settling.

The mediator is likely a practicing family law attorney herself and so she will be able to add a different perspective to your case, the judge your case would be before a trial, and any other relevant issues that are arising. All in all, mediation is successful I would say more than 80 percent of the time. That means that your case has an over eighty percent chance of settling in mediation- whether it be for temporary or final orders.

Put yourself in your spouse鈥檚 shoes when considering a settlement offer

Sometimes we tend to only consider things from our perspective. When your spouse makes a settlement proposal to you it may be your first instinct to think about how the offer affects you directly before anything else. This would be normal. The key to making a successful settlement offer, from my experience, is to do so only after you have thought about how the offer is going to sound to the other side. Unfortunately, many people do not negotiate in this way.

Before you completely disregard a settlement offer from your spouse it is wise to first think about why he or she would propose something like this to you. What does he or she stand to gain from it? How does it impact him or her? Asking these questions will help you to understand how it could be that a settlement offer like that was even proposed in the first place. Instead of reacting like you received a slap to your face maybe it is wise to first ask why the offer was even made.

Putting yourself in your spouse鈥檚 shoes can help you to understand better what your spouse鈥檚 goals are and how that settlement offer was designed to further those goals. If you can start to think like your spouse you are likely to be in a better position to have worthwhile and fruitful settlement negotiations with him or her. If you can get to this point before a settlement offer is even made then that is for the best. Losing faith in settlement negotiations early on can seriously hinder the progress of your case and can help assure that a case runs longer than it ought in most situations.

Compromise is the name of the game

Mediation does increase the odds that your case will settle before having to go to a hearing or trial. The reason for that is that you and your spouse will likely be moving towards one another in the negotiation and away from your possibly polar opposite perspectives on many issues.

You need to be willing and ready to back off from some of your strongly held positions to settle your case. The reason for this is obvious- your spouse will not be willing to entertain settlement conversations that take only your perspectives into account. If you are convinced that your spouse should only have visitation with your kids once a month that is probably a non-starter as far as settlement negotiations are concerned. A Standard Possession Order (SPO) will provide your spouse with visitation at least on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month, plus holidays. Your offer would not be a good way to start negotiations.

What I tell my clients in many situations is that they can either give up some things that they want in mediation or can push for everything in a trial or hearing. The odds are good that they will not get exactly what they want in a trial or hearing either, but will have paid thousands of dollars for a judge to tell them that. Overall, if you can bend a little on your ideas of what is and is not negotiable in your divorce then you will be better off in the long run.

Understand what you are signing up for and do not agree to a settlement before you do

Divorce cases involve complexity. While not as intricate as rocket science, they often entail numerous issues requiring thorough discussion and planning between you and your attorney. Whether it’s dividing substantial property, addressing business interests, or navigating complex child-related matters, understanding each aspect is crucial before contemplating settlement.

Reviewing Your Mediated Settlement Agreement

Many people become worn down by the settlement process. After spending hours in a mediator’s office, they may feel inclined to agree to anything presented to them. Before you let this happen to you I would recommend that you slow down towards the end of mediation and make sure that you understand every aspect of your Mediated Settlement Agreement.

For instance, have you fully taken into consideration what you’ve agreed to regarding a possession schedule of your kids? Are you honestly telling yourself that you can make it on time for the drop-off and pickups each week? Did you forget that your boss is no-nonsense when it comes to being tardy to work or leaving early to pick up your kids? Maybe your idea regarding that new drop-off/pick-up spot isn’t so great after all.

Consider Timeline for Home Sale in Divorce Settlement

What about regarding the sale of your home? Do you think that you’ll be able to find a new place to live in as little as two weeks? Would it be smarter for you to push that to four weeks so that you can leave yourself enough time to finalize an appropriate rental for you and the kids? These little details in a settlement negotiation can leave a big impact on you and your ex-spouse when your divorce is done and over with.

Get a copy of the mediated settlement agreement and read each line with your attorney before signing anything. Some attorneys tend to start planning the rest of their day once the MSA comes out. It鈥檚 all over now, they鈥檒l think. Wrong. Make sure your attorney reads the MSA to make sure that you understand it and that every element that you have agreed to is included in the document. It will be a sickening feeling for you to wake up the next morning and realize that something important was left out of the MSA. The trouble you would be in is that now that your mediation session is over you cannot go back and add to or take anything away from the MSA. Get it right the first time and make sure you understand the issues before signing your name.

Work with the attorney so that she can work for you

Make no mistake- your attorney works for you. I鈥檝e been practicing law long enough to have seen examples of many attorneys who are convinced that you as the client are working for the attorney. Some attorneys fall into the trap of thinking that we are the experts and that it is the client’s honor to be able to work with the attorney. This is not true for most attorneys and is certainly not true for an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Your Attorney’s Role: Working Together for Your Best Outcome

The simple truth of the matter is that an attorney works on behalf of clients like you. We have been hired by you and you are our customer. Our goal should be to provide advice that can put you in the best possible position available. We can do that by communicating with you as the client with as much frequency as possible. A case goes much more smoothly, however, when you seek to help us along the way to a final resolution of your divorce.

For instance, if your attorney or their staff has reached out to you for an answer to a question, a document, or for any matter in between you should respond to that phone call or email as quickly as possible. We understand that you have a job and may not be able to respond to us as quickly as we might like. That鈥檚 ok. However, once you do have the time it is appreciated if you can return a phone call or email. Typically we are not looking for a great deal of information or time. Simply a yes or no answer is what we are looking for.

Timely Communication: The Key to Client Satisfaction

Think about what it is like when you are trying to get a hold of a contractor, doctor, teacher, or anyone else who is providing you a service. How frustrating is it for you to reach out to him only to have him take days to get back in touch with you? An update on the installation of those new windows in the guest bedroom? Prepare to wait a couple of days. I don鈥檛 think that person will be receiving any sort of recommendations from you to work for a friend.

If your attorney reaches out to you for something think about what a commitment that is in and of itself. Your attorney has many other clients besides you. A phone call to you means that he cannot work on the other cases of any other client. This is a sign that there is something urgent to either tell you or ask you. Be an adult and return the phone call as quickly as possible to avoid any issues.

Present evidence to your attorney as early in the case as is possible

Whether this is verbal evidence that you can provide or documents, you should think hard about your divorce and what may be relevant. Don鈥檛 make that decision on your own, however. Ultimately your attorney should be the one to determine relevancy. Don鈥檛 think that a particular bit of information that you know about your spouse isn鈥檛 important. Let your attorney make that decision.

If you are needing to provide bank or other financial documents to your lawyer it is best to do so early in your case. The deeper you get into your divorce the busier you will be and the more unlikely you will be to attend to the request for information. A great deal of the work that your attorney will be doing is preparing that evidence for usage in a hearing or trial. This does not simply mean telling the judge about the evidence and moving on to the next thing. Your attorney will need to offer the evidence in a trial and have it admitted into the record before a judge can consider it. Depending on the evidence being discussed, this can be quite challenging and may require advanced planning to execute effectively.

Help your attorney and you will be helping yourself

We will be offering more tips on how you can assist your attorney in representing you in your divorce during tomorrow鈥檚 blog post.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material contained in this blog please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We provide free consultations with our family law attorneys six days a week, allowing you to get answers to your questions and address your concerns directly.


Adobe Stock 62844981[2]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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  1. 3 Great Texas Divorce Mediation Ideas
  2. What is mediation?
  3. What is Divorce and Family Law Mediation in Spring and Houston Texas?
  4. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
  5. I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn’t: What can I do?
  6. Can I sue my spouse’s mistress in Texas?
  7. 6 Tips – On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
  8. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  9. 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
  10. Mediation Essentials for Divorce and Child Custody cases in Texas

Frequently Asked Questions

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, and surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Today!

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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