In Round Rock, as well as throughout Williamson County and Texas, mediation is an increasingly common method for negotiating divorce settlements. Mediation can be an appropriate and optimal choice in many circumstances: in both contested and uncontested divorces, mediation can facilitate the resolution of outstanding issues or disagreements related to a variety of areas incident to divorce. For reasons more thoroughly discussed below, many times mediation is preferable to traditional divorce litigation.
Simply put, mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offered to divorcing couples, the procedures of which are governed by the Texas Family Code. ADR essentially refers to any method by which disputes are resolved without litigation. Round Rock divorce mediation permits divorcing couples to meet with a specially trained, impartial third party (the mediator) in Round Rock to discuss and, ideally, resolve their divorce-related disputes. Oftentimes, mediation takes place in conference rooms at an attorney’s office. However, recent times have found Round Rock attorneys utilizing online, remote-friendly platforms for their clients’ mediation.
Typically, mediation is less stressful, less costly, and more efficient than litigating a divorce. In mediation, because the divorcing parties get the final say over matters incident to divorce, the parties maintain a certain level of power and control, by contrast to divorce litigation where a judge issues the ultimate decisions.
Many times, it can take the divorcing parties up to one full day to come to an agreement through mediation. While divorce mediation rarely takes longer than one day, sometimes divorcing parties will need more than one session with their mediator. The amount of time required for mediation depends on how many issues are in dispute and how far apart the divorcing couple is from agreement.
The neutral, third-party mediator should be an individual with both patience and common sense. Most Round Rock mediators have an arsenal of negotiation techniques at their disposal, are trained in conflict resolution, and have extensive knowledge of Texas divorce laws. The Round Rock divorce mediator will work with the divorcing parties to facilitate a meaningful conversation regarding the disputed issues. Typically, mediators will keep the parties on track and offer suggestions to help the parties settle any remaining disputes.
While the mediator facilitates the conflict resolution process, they have no power to render a resolution. Simply put: the mediator cannot make decisions for the parties, force either spouse to accept a term, or insist that either spouse sign an agreement.
Rather, the mediator’s sole goal is to guide the parties through the process towards (hopefully) a mutually beneficial resolution. Rather than being told what the outcome is, the divorcing parties fashion a solution that works for them, with the mediator facilitating the process. Many times, the mediator is an attorney herself, however she is not permitted to dispense legal advice during the course of mediation.
As aforementioned, mediation can be the optimal choice for many divorcing couples. Benefits of mediation include, but are not limited to, the following:
Once the mediation process has concluded, an agreement which includes all of the agreed-upon terms is drafted. This agreement is termed the Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) and is signed by both parties, their attorneys, as well as the mediator. In Round Rock, the MSA is used by the divorce attorneys to draft what is called the Final Decree of Divorce. The Decree is what is presented to the court and is what the Judge will ultimately sign.
Sometimes, a divorcing couple fails to resolve all issues through mediation; they may agree on many, but not all, terms. In such instances, the couple will go to court and a Judge will issue a final decision on the issues the spouses cannot agree on.
If you have questions regarding whether or not mediation is the appropriate path for you, contact our offices at (512) 746-7399 to speak with one of our Round Rock mediation lawyers today.