Steps Can You Expect to Follow in a Divorce Lawsuit (Step 4: Mediation)
Step four of a Texas divorce case usually involves mediation—the assisted negotiation of a settlement outside of court. It is perhaps the most common way to settle complex divorce cases before a court hearing or final trial. Although mediation is not mandatory under the Texas Family Code, the Court usually encourages spouses and their attorneys to seek mediation before a temporary orders hearing and/or final trial.How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
In a Texas divorce, mediation usually happens with both spouses and their respective attorneys gathering in a neutral location, with the meeting overseen by a mediator. Sometimes, mediation sessions occur in one or the other attorney’s office, although in the interest of fairness, mediators will often push to conduct sessions in their own office.
In some cases, spouses may join the meeting through phone conference or a Skype video call, so long as their attorneys are physically present and the absence of their clients is approved by the mediator beforehand.
The mediator is usually an attorney or a former judge with experience mediating these types of sessions. Both parties generally have to agree on who to choose as the mediator, otherwise, the Court will appoint a mediator with a high settlement rate.What Happens in a Mediation Session?
Mediation sessions usually begin with spouses staying in separate rooms with their respective divorce attorneys. To avoid contentious bickering, the spouses will not see or hear each other. Instead, the mediator will go back and forth between the two parties, relaying information about each spouse’s demands and concessions.
The mediator will normally allow the person who filed the divorce lawsuit to speak first and make an offer. The mediator will then serve as a messenger, floating between the rooms to exchange offers, conditions, and information to both parties.
In many ways, there will be a lot of bargaining involved. For instance, the first set of offers on what to do with the marital home will wildly different, and it can seem the mediation will never amount to anything both spouses can agree on. But as the day wears on, the offers and demands tend to reach common ground. Of course, mediation sessions can reach an impasse, with neither party side refusing to budge on a demand.
It’s crisis moment when having a skilled mediator goes a long way towards reaching a favorable settlement. An experienced mediator will know the difference between a sincere offer and one made simply to spite the other spouse. Either way, the mediator knows it’s his or her job to help both parties understand that mediation is a negotiation that requires giving and taking.Factors that Affect the Success of Divorce Mediation
Much of the success of divorce mediation rests in the decisions your Texas divorce attorney will make leading to the first session of negotiations.
At the Lyttle Law Firm, our strategy for cases to settle at mediation is to ensure our clients are prepared for the process and have a strong case to settle at the terms they deserve. To do that, we make sure to:
- Choose a skilled mediator we can trust
- Build a strong case with comprehensive evidence and testimonies
- Prepare our clients on what to expect during mediation
- Negotiate firmly but strategically during mediation
Lastly, we will not hesitate to go to trial should mediation fail to arrive at the terms we know you deserve. Many lawyers are reluctant to go to a final trial because of the risk of losing the case and tarnishing their record. For us, we will seek any recourse that gets the best results for you.
For more information about this step of the divorce process in Texas, get in touch with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.