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Mediation has been gaining traction in the realm of family law for a couple of decades now, so it is not new but it is still an underutilized form of dispute resolution. While my favorite way to resolve a divorce case is with a simple written agreement in the early stages of the case, in those cases where negotiations are stuck mediation is almost always the best alternative.
The traditional practice and procedures of divorce and child custody are adversarial by nature and run counter to the more productive cooperative method. Under the traditional practice, the spouses each hire an attorney to argue their respective viewpoints on any disputed issue regarding the division of property or the custody of children.
Let’s start out with the definition of mediation. Mediation is a process whereby the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral mediator who has been trained in law and in the art negotiating a compromise and settlement agreement out of the parties.
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.
Divorce hurts. Feelings of anger can simmer for years. The sense of rejection can linger into new relationships. For many people, the greatest agony of divorce can be the loss of self-respect. Faced with unrelenting anger and fear, many divorcing people are dismayed at the ease with which they abandon deeply held values such as respect, compassion, and empathy.
One of the most difficult things to do during a divorce is to disregard the urgings of well-meaning friends and family to get the toughest, meanest, lawyer around, and to instead consider mediation. Nearly everyone has something to say about how to achieve a divorce.
Many Christians view marriage and the relationship it signifies as a reflection of the intimate relationship the human being has with God and God’s presence through the Holy Spirit. The union of marriage is often equated with the union of Christ with the church, a relationship of oneness and completeness. But what happens when that union dissolves into unbearable pain and suffering? Is the divorcing couple’s relationship with God also broken and dissolved?
Divorce cases that lead to unrestrained and extended litigation are undeniably always destructive and disastrous expenditures of family resources. It is easily estimated that discovery alone in the traditional adversarial litigated divorce can cost more than $20,000 in a fairly routine case.
In our traditional adversarial system, each spouse hires a separate attorney to represent themselves. The lawyers then spend substantial time negotiating with each other and then additional time communicating the outcome of the negotiations to their respective clients.
When both spouses meet with one Divorce Mediator they can share the cost, which is commonly $800.00 to $5000.00 total. If the spouses were to retain separate attorneys to represent them in the divorce, each would be paying a simple retainer of $1500.00-$4500.00 just to get started. The average cost of divorce in the State of Texas is nearing $18,000. Mediation costs much less.
Texas refers to custody as conservatorship and possession of a child. Texas law assumes that awarding joint conservatorship is in the best interests of the child. This would pertain to joint legal conservatorship, not necessarily physical conservatorship. The court defines the rights and obligations of each parent. Living arrangements are often designated to the parent that has been the primary caretaker of the child.
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