For many, the word “divorce” conjures up thoughts of contentious courtroom battles and drawn-out legal proceedings. Divorce is rarely stress-free. Though, this is should not be surprising – divorce is the termination of a personal and legal relationship between two people. Often, the very identities of divorcees can be altered by the experience. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many divorcees report significant improvements in life satisfaction following their divorces—this is especially true for those exiting “low quality” marriages. Many of our clients have credited their positive divorce outcomes to the effective use of mediation. Please continue reading below for a brief overview of mediation and its benefits.
Unlike the traditional courtroom battles seen on Law & Order and other Hollywood productions, most civil legal matters are resolved without a final courtroom showdown. Instead, parties are increasingly turning to mediation as a preferred form of dispute resolution. Meditation can be useful for “smaller” issues, such as the conduct of the parties during the pendency of the matter, or for final settlements. In Texas divorce matters, these are referred to as Final Settlement Agreements.
Mediation does share a few similarities with typical trial timelines, though. Just as with traditional trial-oriented matters, the parties begin by finding legal representatives who then help their clients devise an overall legal strategy. Next, information will be exchanged through either formal or informal discovery proceedings. The primary difference with mediation resolutions is highlighted after the parties have exchanged information and finalized their legal arguments. Instead of arriving at the courthouse armed with legal arguments and mountains of filings, the parties will instead engage in a mediation proceeding. A mediation agreement signed by the parties will carry the same weight as an Order signed by a judge.
Mediations are usually conducted at a neutral setting in full or half-day intervals. Common mediation locations include the offices of unaffiliated-attorneys or simple business parks. Upon arrival, the parties and their lawyers are escorted to separate meeting rooms, far away from the opposing parties (in fact, most mediation organizers go to great lengths to ensure the parties never see each other during the mediation). Communication between the parties is conducted through the Mediator, an unbiased referee, who both parties agree to prior to the mediation. The Mediator travels between the two camps relaying information and, often, helps the parties reach a final agreement. If the parties reach an agreement, the Mediator has the parties sign legal documents binding them to the terms of the agreement.
Mediation offers a host of benefits that can help clients facing a variety of situations. Furthermore, it’s common for clients to reap more than just a single benefit from mediation.
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 San Antonio mediation lawyers today.