What is Mediation?
Any family law attorney will tell you that divorce can be a stressful time, particularly if it is a contentious one. Things people never would have argued about become the topic of great dispute requiring family lawyers to spend countless hours litigating issues that could have easily been resolved through mediation. Therefore, if there is any hope of working things out amicably, many custody and property attorneys would definitely recommend mediation.
How does this work? Mediation can work in one of two ways. The first is where each party hires their own family law firm and an attorney representing each side, along with the parties, meet to discuss the issues in a collaborative or mediated fashion (often called a four-way corresponding to the number of parties present). By doing this they can resolve many, if not all, of the issues in the divorce. The second way is by waiting to retain your own family law attorney and going straight to a mediator. Often this person is a Texas divorce lawyer, however they do not represent either party but rather assist both parties to mediate their divorce. If not a family lawyer, the person might me a retired attorney or judge, a mediator (with a negotiation or an arbitration background), or a therapist. Similar to the first method, their sole purpose would be to assist the parties with a peaceable divorce settlement to which everyone can agree. If a breakdown in communication occurs however, each party will be on their own and may need to ultimately hire a family law attorney.
What are the benefits to mediation? One main benefit is cost. When parties are not litigating or fighting over every detail, they can save themselves hundreds and often thousands of dollars. Even the most reasonable family lawyer will advise that divorces can be costly when parties cannot reach agreements. Another benefit is avoiding litigation, which contributes to cost, but also the stress of a divorce. Responding to questions, depositions and attending countless court appearances by the attorneys can be costly, but also very stressful on families and children. Another lasting benefit is preservation of relationships. Though some parties find it impossible to remain married for a variety of circumstances, there is no reason to harbor resentment forever, particularly if there are children involved. Mediation approaches divorce with an eye toward negotiated and peaceful settlement and family law attorneys are trying to reach that objective for their clients. This approach breeds less hostility where litigating can sometimes lead to increased hostility and damaged relationships.
There are times when divorce is inevitable and a party has no choice but to retain a family divorce lawyer because they are unable to reach agreements on any of the issues. However, there are also times when a family law attorney can help mediate your divorce or where attorneys are not needed at all. Mediation can result in reduced cost, less stress and preservation of valuable relationships that are important to minor children involved such as grandparents, extended family and their own parents.