Divorce Mediation in Houston
The divorce process in the State of Texas can feel long and drawn out while you’re going through it. There are several phases for the dissolution of marriage and they’re each time consuming—even when the divorce is uncontested. Ideally, you can come to an agreement and you or your spouse’s divorce lawyer can file an agreed decree of divorce, but if you aren’t able to settle on terms, you may be required to attend mediation. If that’s the case, you’ll need an experienced family law and divorce attorney on your side.
What is Mediation in a Texas Divorce?
Not all divorces end in contentious legal battles, and just because you’re required to go to mediation isn’t an indication that your divorce process is unusually adversarial. Sometimes, there are just one or two sticking points that can’t be resolved easily. When the parties to a divorce can’t agree to a settlement through their attorneys, state law requires that they attend mediation prior to the next option, which is divorce court.
During mediation, you, your spouse, and if you’re represented by counsel, your attorneys will meet with an impartial third party to discuss the unresolved terms of your divorce. The mediator is usually a retired judge or an attorney who is not connected with either or your lawyers. Texas law defines the role, responsibilities and requirements of a divorce mediator. Mediators are required to be current on the laws governing divorce and child custody and to attend training courses.
The Mediation Process
Most people going through a divorce agree to some things, but can’t come to terms on others. For instance, you may agree to the property division in your divorce, but can’t manage to develop a shared parenting plan. You generally won’t discuss things that you and your spouse have agreed upon during mediation. Here are a few mediation facts:
- There are no attorneys required during mediation, but if you are represented by a divorce lawyer, they can attend.
- Mediations are private and confidential. They usually take place in the mediator’s office or at an agreed upon location.
- Mediation tends to be less expensive than divorce court.
- In mediation, you have more flexibility and you’re not constricted by the formality of court hearings.
- Mediation encourages communication between the two parties.
Whether you voluntarily enter mediation or you’re doing it as a required step before taking your divorce to court, it’s an invaluable resource that can be used by you and your attorney to achieve your objectives.
When is Mediation Required?
There are multiple steps to the Texas divorce process, but by law, you must attend mediation before taking a divorce case before the courts. The following are the steps involved in getting a divorce in Texas:
- You or your spouse files the original petition with a Texas family court.
- The respondent (the one who didn’t file) has 20 days to file an answer to the petition.
- You and your spouse will request and provide information during the discovery phase.
- Once you and your attorney have examined all of the information, you can begin negotiating. If you can agree on terms, one of the lawyers can produce an agreed decree of divorce to present to the courts.
- If you can’t agree on terms, you must attend mediation before appearing in court.
- Even if you’ve attended mediation, the divorce court judge can order you to return to mediation before settling your case.
Divorce and Mediation Lawyer in Houston, TX
Mediation can be an effective way to make sure that you get what you’re expecting in a divorce settlement and it can help ease the way through the process. At the Law Office of Scott D. Reiner, we represent spouses who are seeking divorce in Houston and provide guidance during mediation. To schedule an appointment with family law and divorce attorney Scott Reiner, call our Houston law officer today.