Mediation and Negotiation- the bulwarks of Texas family law

In other words, do not walk out of mediation and assume that your case is over with. There is still work to be done by you, your opposing party, and your attorneys. Creating workable orders is the central component of this discussion. All the work performed by you and your opposing party and mediation will be for nothing if you are not able to turn the settlement into workable family court orders. These orders need to be clear and understandable by all parties. If not, they are not enforceable in the future. 

This puts you in a situation where the orders are not worth the paper that they are printed on. All the work and effort put into preparing for mediation would have been pointless. This is not a circumstance that you want to find yourself in. Having the right attorney means trusting that person to guide you correctly. This is true not only when it comes to matters related to negotiation but also how you can handle yourself before, during, and after your case.

Do not take your foot off the gas once mediation is over. Rather, apply a keen eye for detail to the court orders that need to be drafted. The more time you spend on these court orders the better off you and your family are in the future. Many people have successfully settled in mediation only to find that problems exist with the orders that are drafted. Fixing orders after a family law case is over typically not easy.

Do not sign orders until you understand them

A major mistake that people make during a family law matter after mediation is to sign orders they do not understand. This occurs for many reasons. First, people are genuinely fatigued after engaging in mediation and a lengthy family law case. Imagine taking a test over many days. The first day you have a lot of energy. Day number two you start to fatigue. On the third day writing in any answer that sounds plausible is succumbing to the fatigue of test taking.

This same issue happens in a family law case. While you may have been engaged fully at the beginning of your case the fact is that by the end of mediation, your reserves are spent. In other words, you just want to get the case over with. Nevertheless, it is important to ignore this thought and proceed with an eye toward detail and doing what is best for your family. Do not give in to the temptation to give up too soon.

On the other hand, you need to focus even more on your case during this time. Blitzing through the last stages of mediation just to say that you are done with the case would be a mistake. Rather, spend more time looking through your court orders and focus your attention on the details of your case. You will be happy that you did so. Most importantly, you and your family in the future will be extremely happy that you did this.

Negotiation with your opposing party outside mediation 

What you should not assume is that the only place where negotiation occurs is in mediation. Mediation is indeed a formalized settlement negotiation circumstance. There are many reasons to be optimistic that mediation can work out to be successful. However, this does not mean that mediation is the only appropriate place to negotiate with your opposing party.

One of the major mistakes that people in your circumstance make is to only negotiate around mediation. For example, suppose that you are involved in a divorce case. The instinct many people have is to leave their spouse alone during the case and only handle negotiations immediately before mediation. This is a major mistake in most circumstances. Taking this perspective guarantees you are losing time that could be better spent working through the major issues of your case.

The experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand the importance of mediation and how to get the most out of this important stage of your case. However, it is crucial to understand that negotiation takes place throughout a productive family law matter. Our attorneys are skilled at helping you take advantage of every opportunity available to reach reasonable settlement conclusions with your opposing party.

Where do you go when mediation is not successful?

While mediation is successful for many parties who engage in the process it is not for everyone. In those circumstances where you have difficulty settling your case there are additional options for you to pursue. For one, you should continue to negotiate with your opposing party until you are unable to do so any longer. It is not uncommon for parties to arrive at a settlement literally on the courthouse steps before a hearing or a trial. Give negotiation a chance until it is not possible for you to do it any longer.

Next, you can try and be honest with your opposing party to see if another round of mediation may be successful. Perhaps one of you did not prepare adequately for mediation and thinks that a second try may allow you to arrive at a long-term settlement. There is nothing wrong with trying to go this route with your opposing party if he or she is agreeable to it. Just be sure to mediate as conscientiously as possible the next time.

Finally, when negotiation does not work a hearing or trial is your last resort to resolve your family law matter. Prepare diligently for a trial or hearing by falling back on your preparation for mediation. Much of the time the preparation you put into mediation helps prepare you for a hearing or trial. Working with an attorney who is equally skilled at the negotiation table and in the courtroom is a tremendous advantage to have.

Final thoughts on mediation

You truly can get as much out of mediation as you put into it. Without a doubt, parties in your position settle their cases all the time even when they are less than optimistic about their chances at success. However, being able to prepare diligently for mediation is key. The more you can work with your opposing party before mediation the greater the likelihood that you can avoid a trial or hearing later in your case.

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan thank you for spending time with us today on our blog. If you have any questions about the material, you have read through please do not hesitate to contact us for a free-of-charge consultation. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan is here to serve our community and we take a great deal of pride in being able to do just that.

Negotiating with your opposing party- how to approach this subject

Anytime you are in a family law case there are certain to be disagreements. Parents and/or spouses who agree on most subjects usually don’t find themselves in family cases. So, don’t feel hopeless when you and your spouse or co-parent are at odds on issues. It is also easy to think that because of these disagreements, there is no hope for a settlement. You’d rather negotiate with any other person on earth at this moment. However, the paradox of the family law case is that this is the person you are bound to negotiate with.

Is it possible to negotiate well with a person whom you oppose in many areas of life? Absolutely. Is it easy to do? Every situation is different but probably not. The reality of your situation is that there are challenges when it comes to negotiations. However, those challenges do not need to define your approach to this case. Rather, your willingness to overcome those challenges is your defining moment. 

Approaching negotiations with your opposing party in the case is done one step at a time. Step number one is to not view him or her as your opponent. Rather, this is your spouse and/or co-parent undoubtedly someone that you share an intimate relationship with. That relationship may be over but there is a new relationship on the horizon if you are a parent. Even if you are not, there are still reasons to anticipate the need to work with him or her on these issues. 

Communicating with each other

Let’s assume that you and your opposing party have difficulty communicating with one another. This has always been a problem, but it has gotten worse in recent years. Now the two of you are here in a family law case. That presents its own set of unique challenges. Not only are you in a competitive environment but the stakes are high. You don’t know the future of your property, your children, or your life. A lot is riding on this case. How should you approach this case as far as your opposing party is concerned?

Try to communicate directly with him or her when possible. When you both have attorneys, it is tempting to cycle all communication through the attorney. However, this is not the most efficient way to do this. Imagine having to go through a third party just to deliver a simple message. In some situations, this may be necessary due to the breakdown in the relationship between the two of you. However, in most situations, you can communicate with one another directly. Do not use your attorneys for conversation facilitating unless necessary.

Next, work with him or her on their terms. If you know that your opposing party does not do well in face-to-face conversations, call her instead. Or, if you know that your co-parent has a weekly meeting with his boss at the same time every Thursday do not make that the time you call him that week. Again, this does not have to be complicated. Show respect, think about the issues in your life, and make a habit out of communication. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

During a family law case, the tendency is for the parties to focus on every small detail. The small details add up to something major, you tell yourself. Letting one little thing go could be disastrous. A domino effect of bad outcomes and missed opportunities. In short, this is a situation where parents and spouses tend to make mountains out of molehills. The high stakes and high stress of a family law case all come together to make this an atmosphere ripe for nit-picking.

The key to avoiding this type of arrangement is to understand that there are times to pick nits. There are also times to overlook small behaviors that do not add up to being overly important. It is annoying when your spouse drops the kids off after a weekend and they are five minutes late. Have this happen two weekends in a row and it’s annoying. Technically he is violating your court orders, what should you do?

Make a catty or passive-aggressive comment? Expect the same treatment from your husband the next time you make a mistake. Get your lawyer to call him. Same thing. Try to file an enforcement lawsuit against him. Oh, boy. These are the types of things that tend to rock the apple cart. What had been a fairly nonconfrontational case becomes anything but that now. 

Let cooler heads prevail and show grace when possible

This does not mean letting your spouse walk all over you in a case. Likewise, your co-parent should not assume that he or she can do whatever they want. However, it does mean to take the behavior with a grain of salt. We all get stressed out. Everyone gets off late from work from time to time. Your kids really may have forgotten a jacket at his house. They had to run back home to get it. This explains being five minutes late. 

Amid a family law case, it feels like you need to take it to your co-parent or spouse at every turn. That is the nature of a family law case, right? Not necessarily. It certainly is the tone for many family law cases. However, it does not have to be yours. Rather, you can make your case different. A different approach suits many people well. Determine if yours is a case that will allow for this. Talk to your spouse and/or co-parent.  Get a feel for their approach to the case.

You may be surprised to learn that your co-parent is eager to set aside your differences and do what is best for the kids. Likewise, your spouse could meet you in the middle on issues having to do with property and the kids. The realities of a family law case are such that there are options presented to you that otherwise may be off-limits. Explore your options in a considerate way. 

Understanding what matters in a family law case (and what doesn’t)

Ultimately, an understanding of the truly important issues in a family law case matters most. Looking out for things that set the tone for your case early on is critical. When your spouse does not show common respect to you then it is unlikely he will do so later. Bring this up to him early in a case to avoid prolonging the disrespect. Many times, people don’t even understand how they are behaving until someone points it out. 

Next, go through your child’s life (if the case involves children) and determine where you want your child to be in five years. If the issue impacting your family law case does not factor into that five-year plan, consider leaving it alone. This is easier said than done when the atmosphere of the case is competitive. However, you can impact that atmosphere positively by your actions. 

The physical health and safety of you and your family matters. It is not common to have your safety put in jeopardy during a family law case. Do not get that impression. However, these issues may come up, unfortunately. Never waver or compromise when it comes to your safety. Instead, focus your attention on doing right and serving your family as best you can. 

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan prides itself on serving our clients to the utmost. Whether we are inside a courtroom or at the negotiating table it is our goal to always put our best foot forward when working on behalf of our clients. To speak with one of our attorneys all you need to do is lift the phone or go to our website. Either way, you can get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan    

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

Share this article