How Long Does Divorce Take After Mediation In Texas?
If you are going through a divorce in Texas, you may be wondering how long the process will take. If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on child custody and other matters through mediation, it can speed up the process.
In this blog post, we will explore how long divorce takes after mediation in Texas. We will also provide some tips on how to make the mediation process go as smoothly as possible.
But first, let’s take a look at what mediation is and how it fits into the divorce process.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process that can be used to help couples who are divorcing reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. In Texas, mediation is not required, but it is encouraged as an alternative to going to court.
Studies show that mediation increases the chances of parents getting joint custody of their children and reaching the best settlement.
Couples who choose to mediate their divorce will work with a mediator, who is a neutral third party, to try to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. The mediator will help the couple communicate with each other and identify areas of agreement and disagreement.
The mediator does not make decisions for the couple or tell them what they should do; rather, the mediator facilitates communication and helps the couple identify options that might lead to an agreement.
In most cases, the divorcing parties, along with their respective divorce attorneys are seated in different rooms. The mediator discusses the case and presents the requirements of each side to the other party by going back and forth between the two rooms.
The mediation process can be flexible, and couples can choose how much time they want to spend in mediation. They can also choose whether or not to have lawyers present during mediation.
However, it is advisable to have your divorce lawyer present during the mediation to protect your rights.
If the couple is able to reach an agreement, they can then submit their agreement to the court for approval. This can save time and money, as well as reduce stress for all involved.
How long does the mediation process take?
The mediation process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the complexity of the divorce.
If both parties are able to reach an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, then the process can be quite quick. This is typically the case when there are no children or extensive marital assets involved.
However, if there are disagreements on some or all of the issues, then the process can take longer.
In some complicated cases, divorce mediation can last until 9 PM at night or even later.
How mediation fits into the divorce process in Texas
While every divorce is different, there are some general steps that all divorces in Texas follow.
The first step is to file a petition for divorce. This starts the legal process and must be filed with the district clerk in the county where you or your spouse live. You will then need to serve your spouse with the petition, which can be done through a constable or sheriff.
Once your spouse has been served, they will have 20 days to respond to the petition. If they do not respond, you can proceed with a default divorce. If they do respond, you will need to attend a mediation session and come to an agreement on all outstanding issues. Once you have reached an agreement, you will need to file a final decree of divorce, which will be signed by a judge and made official.
Here are the steps in detail:
Filing for divorce in Texas
The process of filing for divorce in Texas is fairly straightforward. The first step is to file a petition (known as the “Original Petition for Divorce”) for divorce with the district clerk in the county where you or your spouse live.
Once the petition is filed, your spouse will be served with a copy of the petition and a notice of the pendency of the action.
Divorce forms can be served:
- By a sheriff or constable sheriff
- By certified mail
- By the process server
You will need to list all of the reasons why you want a divorce and provide any supporting documentation. You will also need to pay a filing fee.
Filing a response
Your spouse then has 20 days to file a response to the petition.
If your spouse does not respond to the petition, the court can finalize the marriage dissolution without them. You may also have an advantage when it comes to court decisions related to property division, alimony, and child custody.
If there are situations where there is a danger to either party or their children’s safety, temporary orders may be issued by the court. These orders can relate to asset management and child custody.
Reaching an agreement
If you and your spouse have already discussed and have come to an agreement on all matters, the case proceeds to the final hearing.
A final decision is made at this hearing on all the issues including child custody, spousal support, debt, and asset distribution. This is known as an “uncontested divorce” or”agreed divorce.”
If you and your spouse are not on the same page when it comes to one or more of these issues, the court orders mediation.
The option of mediation
While mediation is not a mandatory requirement in Texas, it is generally viewed as an effective way to resolve disagreements and speed up the divorce process, particularly in a contested divorce.
Contested divorces involve a discovery process where each party obtains the relevant documents and evidence from the other.
You can opt for mediation after or before you file for the divorce petition. Your divorce attorney is required to inform the court in case opt for mediation after you have filed the petition.
Note that a judge, under Texas law, courts may order mediation for some divorce cases, particularly those involving child custody cases.
However, court-ordered mediation policies vary between counties in Texas. In some counties, such as Travis county, judges will order mediation if the trial takes longer than three hours.
Courts may also appoint a mediator if the parties cannot choose their own.
The final decree
If you and your spouse have been able to come to an agreement through mediation, the next step is to submit it to the court for approval.
This is typically done by each party submitting a proposed order to the court. The court will review the proposed orders and, if they are in compliance with Texas law, will sign them and they will become binding.
How long does a divorce take in Texas after mediation?
What happens after mediation depends on the outcome of the process.
Mediation can result in several possible outcomes:
- PMSA or Partial Mediated Settlement Agreement – In this case, the parties have agreed on some issues only. Here, the PMSA is entered into and the case goes to trial to decide the issues that were not agreed upon.
- MSA or Mediated Settlement Agreement – The parties are agreed on all issues and the final trial is not required. Based on these agreements, the Final Decree of Divorce is drawn up.
- Failure of mediation –The parties are not able to come to an agreement on any issue and the case proceeds to the final trial.
If the couple is able to reach an agreement through mediation, they will sign a mediated settlement agreement (MSA). This document will outline all of the terms of their divorce, including how they will divide their assets and debts. Once the MSA is signed, it is submitted to the court for approval. Once it is approved, the couple is officially divorced.
The settlement agreement is a binding contract that outlines the terms of the divorce, such as:
- Debt and property division
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support and alimony
After the mediation, there is a 60-day waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. In some cases, it can take more than 60 days even with an uncontested divorce.
However, this waiting period can be waived if there are special circumstances, such as domestic violence.
If the judge does not approve it, the parties can either go back to mediation or take their chances in court. In this case, the divorce finalization can take a longer time, depending on whether an agreement is reached on all issues.
If you are not able to reach an agreement through mediation, or if you choose not to mediate, the next step is to file a “Dissolution of Marriage” petition with the court.
A contested divorce can take up to a year or more, depending on the complexities involved, to finalize.
If the case goes to trial, your divorce lawyers will call witnesses and present evidence to help you achieve the desired outcome.
Divorce attorneys and the court may try to settle some issues through informal mediation prior to the trial to speed up the divorce process.
What factors affect the divorce timeline in Texas?
There are a variety of factors that affect how long it takes to finalize a divorce in Texas. One of the biggest factors is whether the parties can reach an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, including property division, child custody and support, and alimony. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, their divorce will likely take longer.
Another factor that can affect the divorce timeline is whether either party files for a fault-based divorce. In Texas, there are grounds for both fault and no-fault divorces. If one party files for a fault-based divorce, it can lengthen the process as the parties will need to go through discovery and may need to attend a trial.
Finally, if the parties have complex financial assets or children from previous relationships, their divorce may take longer as well. These cases often require more time to negotiate and may require outside experts to help value assets or assess parenting plans.
Another factor that can affect the divorce timeline is when the judge finds that the divorce settlement was illegal or was a result of fraud or coercion. For instance, the court may find that one party’s decisions were impaired due to their being a victim of abuse or domestic violence.
The other case when a judge can refuse to sign the final divorce order is when they believe the agreement is not in the best interests of the children involved.
For example, the court finds that a parent with a history of sexual or physical abuse has been allowed unsupervised access to the child.
Why consult a divorce lawyer?
When a couple decides to divorce, they must reach an agreement on how to divide their assets and debts.
If the couple is unable to reach an agreement in mediation, they may need to go to trial. This process can be lengthy and expensive, so it is always best to try to resolve your differences through mediation first.
If you’re considering mediation in your Texas divorce, it’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney by your side. A divorce attorney can help you understand the mediation process and ensure that your rights are protected.
During mediation, a neutral third party will facilitate discussion between you and your spouse in an effort to reach a settlement agreement. Your divorce attorney can help you prepare for mediation by gathering all of the necessary financial documents and developing a negotiation strategy.
Your attorney will also be there to advocate for you during mediation and can help you reach a fair agreement that is in your best interests. If an agreement is not reached during mediation, your divorce attorney can continue to represent you through the litigation process.
At The Vendt Law Firm, our divorce attorneys have the skills and competence required to achieve the best outcome even in the most complex cases.
Get in touch with us to streamline your divorce process in Texas.