Mediation in Texas: Creating a divorce settlement out of court

Couples who are filing for divorce in Texas may want to consider undergoing mediation rather than going through court litigation.

When a couple decides to terminate their marriage in Texas, they have several options. Depending on the situation and the circumstances surrounding the divorce, couples may choose to enter into traditional court litigation or create a settlement themselves. The latter is usually reserved for couples who are able to discuss the terms of their divorce in a civil manner. In some cases, couples may need assistance when negotiating factors, such as separation of property, parenting plans, alimony and child support. Mediation offers a non-confrontational environment for couples to discuss matters regarding their divorce and ultimately design a settlement.

How mediation works

Each party arrives at a mediation session prepared to fully disclose all information regarding the divorce and ready to make decisions that will benefit everyone involved, according to Forbes. The meeting takes place under the informal direction of a third-party mediator. The mediator can answer the couple's legal questions, make sure that all of the topics are covered before the final divorce decree is issued, and make sure that both parties are able to voice their thoughts and desires equally during the sessions. Mediators cannot, however, provide legal advice to the parties or personal assistance to one of the parties.

Although couples are not required to have an attorney present during mediation sessions, people can choose to have their lawyer there with them.

Mediation may be advantageous

While mediation is not ideal for every couple, those who wish to have a part in creating their own divorce decree may benefit. According to the American Bar Association, mediation may offer the following advantages over traditional court litigation.

• Quicker: Couples can often create a divorce settlement in as little as one or two mediation sessions. People have more flexibility when scheduling their sessions as well.

• Less expensive: Since mediation takes place out of court, there are no court costs associated with the process.

• Customization: Instead of leaving the outcome of a settlement in the hands of a court-appointed judge, mediation allows couples to customize their decree. This may mean making arrangements that would not otherwise be available through litigation.

• Better compliance: Studies show that couples who play a part in designing their own settlement are more likely to comply with the terms of the divorce.

People who must deal with one another after the divorce is finalized, including parents or business partners, may enjoy a better relationship after going through the mediation process.

Where to look for legal help

If you are filing for divorce in Texas, you may have some questions regarding the process of terminating a marriage. You may want to turn to an attorney for legal assistance. A lawyer may be helpful in exploring all of your options and walking you through the process.