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Guide to Mediation in Divorce and Family Law Cases in Houston
  1. Mediation is a process where the parties and their attorneys meet with a skilled negotiator (mediator) to see if the mediator can draw an agreement out of the parties. The mediator is trained in law and in the art of negotiating.

  2. Everything that is said at mediation is confidential. The mediator can never be compelled to come into court and testify about what was said at mediation, and during a trial neither party can testify about what was offered or said at mediation.

  3. The mediator is not there to make a decision; the mediator's role is strictly to pull an agreement out of the parties.

  4. Many times a mediator "will play both sides against the middle", meaning the mediator may tell you one thing to try to get you to settle and tell your spouse the opposite.

  5. One of the roles of a mediator is to get the parties to look at the down side of their case, along with the benefits of settling.

  6. The mediator will have you and your attorney in one room and your spouse and spouse's attorney in another room. The mediator will shuttle back and forth trying to understand the facts, conveying offers, and offering suggestions.

  7. Once in a while the mediator will request that the mediator be allowed to meet only with the parties, and not their attorneys, for a short while. This will happen only if both parties and their attorneys agree. If this does occur, nothing will be finalized until both parties have had an opportunity to meet with their attorneys.

  8. The success rate at mediation is about 80%.

  9. If the case is settled at mediation, the mediated settlement agreement is irrevocable and binding and not subject to change. If a party signs off on a mediated settlement agreement and has "buyer's remorse" or discovers that they made a big mistake, they are still bound by the agreement - there is nothing the Court can do to help the person - the Court is obligated to follow the terms of the mediated settlement agreement and enforce it. The Court cannot alter the terms of the mediated settlement agreement.

  10. If the case settles at mediation, an Order will be prepared encompassing its terms and submitted to the Court - usually in about 2 weeks. Once the Final Order is signed by the Judge your case is officially over.

  11. If the case is not settled at mediation, the mediator can only write the Court a letter saying "I mediated this case and it did not settle."

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In Texas most cases, alimony is limited to three years because it is supposed to be temporary. Alimony is only awarded if a spouse who has been married for at least 10 years cannot support herself or himself, or if there is domestic violence and the violent spouse is convicted during the divorce case. This being said, marital fault can be considered when the court determines an alimony award and this is not limited to just the spouse who may or may not be the obligor (payor).
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