Throughout Travis County and Lakeway in particular, mediation is rapidly becoming a popular methods for resolving divorce suits. For many couples, mediation can provide several advantages over traditional divorce litigation. Mediation can help the parties resolve the broad variety of issues that can accompany divorce. Continue reading below for just a few reasons why mediation may be preferable to traditional divorce litigation for both contested and uncontested divorces.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Lawmakers understand that not all couples want or need to engage in formal court proceedings to resolve every dispute and issue. For those who want to attempt more collaborative approaches before resorting to formal litigation, Texas law provides a number of alternatives, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. The procedures of these alternative methods are governed by the Texas Family Code. Divorce mediation permits divorcing couples in Lakeway to seek the assistance of a neutral third-party (the mediator) to discuss and help reach a resolution in their dispute. Mediators are specially trained in dispute resolution techniques and often have extensive experience as either a judge or family law attorney. Mediation can occur in any neutral setting, such as an office or conference room at an attorney’s office. Due to recent developments, mediation can also take place remotely.
The rise in the popularity of mediation among couples is due largely to reduced costs, reduced stress, and increased efficiency over traditional litigation avenues. Mediation allows the couple to arrive at their own final resolution, instead of having a solution determined by a third party (such as a judge or arbitrator). Many couples feel that this difference provides a greater sense of agency in their dispute.
Typical mediation sessions take place over a full day. If the parties have not arrived at an agreement by the end of the day, they will have the choice of either continuing the mediation on a later date, or pursuing some other method of dispute resolution. Whether the parties can find a solution on the first day comes down to the number of issues, and the parties’ positions relative to each other.
As we mentioned above, the mediator helps guide the parties through the mediation process. The mediator is a neutral, third-party, the choice of which both parties must agree to. Fortunately, a large majority of the mediators in Lakeway are equipped with a number of negotiation techniques. Additionally, many have extensive knowledge of Texas law and are formally trained in conflict resolution. The agreed upon mediator will work with both parties to foster productive negotiations and offer reasoned feedback on the parties’ arguments (however, mediators are not permitted to dispense legal advice at any time).
It is important to remember that the mediator’s role is to assist the parties to reach their own solution; they have no authority to dictate resolutions to the parties. In this way, the mediator can assist the parties arrive at a solution that works for them.
The numerous benefits that mediation can bring has made it a popular choice among couples in Lakeway. A non-exhaustive list of mediation’s benefits includes:
After concluding the mediation process, the parties will have a single document compiled that will contain all of the agreed upon terms. This agreement is called the Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). Once both parties, their attorneys, and the mediator sign the MSA, it will be binding and have the force of law behind it. In Travis County (and therefore, Lakeway), the parties’ attorneys will use the MSA to draft the Final Decree of Divorce. The Decree is then presented to the court and signed by the Judge.
Try as we might, sometimes couples will be unable to reach an agreement on a particular matter or issue. Afterall, mediated settlements must be accepted by all parties word for word. In the rare instance when mediation cannot gain traction, the parties will be free to attempt another form of ADR or even engage in a traditional litigation proceeding.
If you would like to discuss whether mediation would be an appropriate avenue for your matter, please contact our offices at (512) 746-7399 to speak with one of our experienced Lakeway mediation lawyers today.