Separation and/or decision to divorce can bring up feelings of anger and resentment, but that emotional conflict tends to make divorce much more costly. If you and your spouse want to avoid hearings, discovery, finger-pointing and elongating an already difficult decision, divorce mediation may be your best course of action.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a structured process where a trained, neutral third-party (the mediator) assists the spouses to resolve common divorce-related problems. Mediation is generally less stressful and less costly than a divorce trial and normally proceeds much faster.
Because you or your spouse both want to direct input on your divorce results, mediation gives you the ability to make your own decisions instead of asking a judge to decide.
How do you choose a Mediator (Especially with children involved)?
There is no doubt that divorce becomes complicated when it involves kids. Parents seeking a divorce need to choose a mediator who’s trained to manage the various problems which come with divorce, like child custody (conservatorship), visitation, and child support.
Your mediator must be trained in conflict resolution and also have in-depth knowledge of your state’s divorce laws.
Additionally, your mediator should be willing to work with you or your partner to facilitate significant conversation about the immediate issues at hand to keep conversations productive and on track. At the same time, your mediator needs to be empathetic and allow you and your spouse the space to be understood.
Your mediator can NOT make decisions for you, provoke either partner to take a particular position or insist that anyone sign a contract.
Also, a mediator is not a representative of either spouse and cannot advise either party directly. In other words, each party should attain advice and counsel from an attorney: a mediator/mediation is not a replacement for legal counsel.
How Does a Divorce Mediation Work?
The mediation process starts once you or your spouse consent to use this system of alternative dispute resolution and then select your mediator.
Note: Typically, in the state of Texas, a divorce petition with children involved will be ordered to mediation. The mediation will only work if the two spouses are agreeable to negotiating the terms of the divorce in a non-litigant setting.
Throughout the initial meeting, each spouse will discuss their desired outcome for the divorce settlement: property division, custody and visitation, child financial support and spousal support.
Once you agree on each of the outstanding issues, your mediator can draft either a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) or, more preferably, the attorneys present can draft the decree based on the all the settled issues for review and signing.
No matter what the circumstances are, a divorce is a difficult decision to make. With the right mediator, this process can be made smoother, less costly and much faster.