The Role of Mediation in Divorce: Pros and Cons
A divorce in Sugar land or Richmond, Texas, does not always have to be a long and bitter courtroom drama; there are ways to get a divorce amicably. Here’s a look at what mediation is, mediation pros and cons, and when opting for mediation is a good idea and when it isn’t.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation or divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that allows couples to resolve their differences and get a divorce without going to court.
Unlike in court, where a judge makes decisions on child support, custody, property division, and alimony, a mediator assists both parties in reaching a mutually agreeable decision on those issues during mediation. Both parties may hire their attorney to assist them in preparing for mediation, coaching them through the negotiation process, and preparing and reviewing the resulting agreement.
Before having their divorce issues heard and decided by a judge, some Texas counties require couples to go through mediation and try to resolve their differences outside of court. That is not the case in Richmond, Texas. However, many couples voluntarily choose this method to settle all aspects of their divorce outside of court.
A divorce settled out of court through mediation can benefit both parties, but at times, it is not the best way to get a divorce. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of mediation.
Divorce Mediation pros and cons
Like all other divorce aspects, mediation has pros and cons. Here’s a look at various advantages and disadvantages of mediation to consider.
Advantages to mediation
Mediation can be a better alternative to a contested divorce. Here’s a look at some of the main benefits of mediation.
Save money: It’s no secret that a divorce can be expensive. The median cost of a divorce in the United States is $7,000, but the average cost is between $15,000 and $20,000. A contested divorce can be more expensive, and in Texas, a contested divorce can cost around $16,000. Mediation can significantly reduce these costs because it eliminates the need for a full trial, court fees, and other legal fees associated with taking your case to court.
Save time: You naturally want to get your divorce done and carry on with your life as soon as possible. A divorce trial can drag on for months or even years as you are at the mercy of court schedules and can’t hurry up the process. You can resolve all of your issues through mediation in a matter of days or weeks. It depends on the pace you, your spouse, and your mediator set, how quickly you can go through and decide on various issues, and how well you can work together.
Gain control: In court, all decisions of child custody, alimony, division of property, and other critical matters of division of assets are made by the judge. With massive caseloads, a judge might not have enough time to spend on each case. When you go to trial, a judge is empowered to impose decisions regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, division of marital property, etc. With little time to devote to your case, the judge may be unable to devote enough time to thinking through the unique issues of your case and the best outcome. Their decisions may not be in your favor.
With mediation, you have control over the terms of your divorce and the entire process, ensuring that you both get a better deal. Together, the two of you have the time to investigate each issue, consider the unique issues you both face, and devise tailored solutions that work for both of you. Even if you are unable to reach an amicable agreement during mediation and must proceed to trial, a judge may give weight to your attempt to try later.
Better communication: Mediation gives you a better chance of talking things out with your spouse and reaching an amicable decision. It is better than a trial, where lawyers and the judge make the decisions for you. It is a confidential process that encourages both parties to engage in open dialogue. It can be an excellent way to expedite your divorce while remaining friendly with your spouse. Child support and custody issues can become contentious. Still, a knowledgeable and experienced mediator can help you work out the details by outlining your options and what has worked for other couples.
Better long-term relationship: Divorce is especially difficult for children. The more prolonged and contentious the legal battle, the worse it can be for the children and the parties involved. Relationships deteriorate, and children bear the brunt of both feuding parties.
A successful mediation always ends with both parties agreeing on all divorce-related decisions. This is especially useful when children and shared custody are involved – the process is peaceful and can make it easier on your children and co-parenting.
Disadvantages of mediation
While mediation can be a better course of action than a contested divorce, there are some drawbacks. Here’s a look at some disadvantages of mediation.
No legal advice:
The goal of divorce mediation is to bring both parties together, clear up any misunderstandings, address any concerns, and reach agreements on all aspects of the divorce. Ultimately, a legally sound and mutually acceptable divorce agreement is drawn. A mediator serves as a go-between, officiating meetings between you and your spouse; they do not provide legal advice.
Your partner may conceal assets from you in order to avoid paying you what you are owed. Without a court to back you up, those hidden assets may never be discovered, and you may end up receiving far less than you deserve.
A nasty or disagreeable spouse:
If your spouse is an aggressive, dishonest, or uncooperative person determined to make the divorce as difficult as possible for you, open dialogue may be impossible. Resolving any issues with a mediator will be impossible without honest and open dialogue.
Abuse is not addressed:
Issues like domestic violence and other urgent matters cannot be handled by a mediator.
Nobody looking after your interests:
In mediation, the mediator’s role is merely to help you and your partner strike a deal. Unless you hire a reliable lawyer to advise you through the mediation process, you won’t have anyone looking out for your interests.
One of the benefits of mediation is the ability to settle the divorce as quickly and peacefully as possible. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on issues such as child custody and the division of marital property, the process can drag on for months. It can spiral out of control until you are forced to file for divorce.
The Texas mediation process – what it involves
Richmond, Texas, does not require mandatory mediation, and any mediation is voluntary. The mediation process is as follows:
Step 1: Agree on mediation
The first step to mediation is that you and your spouse agree on using mediation rather than taking your divorce to court.
Step 2. Hire a divorce mediator
Engage the services of an experienced and certified divorce mediator licensed to mediate in Texas. When selecting a mediator, establish their mediation process, and ensure it is affordable and fits your schedule. Mediation can be a difficult and painful process, so make sure you hire someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
Step 3: Attend the preliminary meeting
The first meeting is crucial. It is when you and your spouse meet with the mediator, who will explain the mediation process to you both and understand your case and disagreements.
Step 4: Attend mediation sessions
There are no specific rules or laws in Texas regarding mediation, but there are critical stages that every mediation must follow. These are:
- Identification of issues and gathering of information
You will be required to attend mediation sessions, typically held after work or on weekends (whichever is convenient to both parties and the mediator). In Texas, you can meet with the mediator and your spouse together, or you and your spouse can meet the mediator separately in different rooms. The mediator will move from one room to the next to relay all information. If you have hired a Sugar Land divorce attorney (which is always a good idea), they can represent you and accompany you to mediation sessions.
If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of the agreement, you can wrap up a mediation with one session. Or, it could take multiple sessions to come to an agreement.
Step 5: Draft the agreement
Once you and your partner have agreed on all disputed issues, the mediator will draft a legally binding agreement. That agreement will be submitted to a court judge for approval.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the divorce is taken to court. If you and your spouse cannot agree on some issues, those issues must be sorted out in court.
Some important points to remember about mediation in Richmond, Texas
- It is not mandatory to go through mediation in Richmond, Texas.
- Mediation is an option at any time during a divorce in Richmond, Texas.
- A mediator’s role is to help you and your spouse reach an agreement and never force a settlement.
- Divorce mediation is not suitable for all couples going through a divorce.
- There is no guarantee that mediation will provide you with a desirable outcome.
- Either you or your spouse can, at any point in time, decide that the mediation is not working and ask for your divorce issues to be heard in court.
- The court must approve the agreement you and your spouse reach during mediation.
There are pros and cons of mediation, but there are sometimes when mediation works and when it won’t.
This is when mediation can work
When you and your spouse can communicate openly with each other
When you and your spouse can commit to resolving your differences amicably
When you trust your spouse will not take advantage of the free exchange of information
When you both believe you do not need a third party (a court or judge) to give you your rights.
This is when mediation does not work
When there is no trust
If there was domestic violence or any other type of violence
When one party tries to cheat the other.
Why you need a divorce lawyer during mediation
You don’t need a lawyer during mediation, but having one on your side to fight for your rights is always a good idea. Here’s why:
Without a reliable divorce lawyer, you do not have a legal person looking out for your best interests or someone to advise you on your best moves.
If you have an attorney, they can use the discovery process and independent investigations to determine whether your spouse is concealing assets.
A divorce lawyer can review the terms of the proposed agreement with you during mediation to ensure your rights are protected, and the agreement is in your best interests.
Studies show that hiring a lawyer can result in the best custody outcomes.
So there you have it – mediation pros and cons and when it will and will not work. The benefits of mediation cannot be overstated, but it is not always the best solution. It’s never a good idea to go into mediation without the assistance of a lawyer because the details of a mediation agreement can affect you for the rest of your life. A divorce lawyer can advise you on the best course of action – be it mediation or a contested/uncontested divorce.
Do you require the services of an experienced and dependable divorce attorney who will fight for your rights and ensure you receive what you are owed? Attorney Frank J. Vendt of the Vendt Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Richmond, Texas, can assist you in understanding the mediation process and determining whether it is the best option for you. He has the knowledge and experience to handle the most straightforward to the most complex divorce cases and mediation’s and has the compassion to assist you. Please contact or call our office at (832) 990-7143 to speak to Mr. Vendt at the earliest.