In divorce mediation, a neutral third party, known as a mediator, will help you and your spouse to resolve conflicts. The goal of mediation is to resolve your divorce out of court by agreement, rather than fight it out in court.
Settling divorce out of court
Settling your divorce out of court through mediation can be a great way to resolve your divorce case if you can reach an agreement that is fair to you. The advantages of settling divorce out of court are the time, money and emotional toil of going to trial in your divorce case.
Sometimes, going to court ends up being the only way to resolve disagreements, and settling divorce out of court is not a possibility in every case. You and your spouse may disagree about issues related to children, such as child custody, visitation, child support, or medical or educational decision-making, just to name a few possible issues divorce mediation lawyers in Austin, TX help their clients face.
It’s also possible that you and your spouse may have disagreements over property issues, such as ownership of a family home or business, division of investment and retirement accounts, and other complex property division issues in a divorce in Austin, TX.
No matter the issues you’re facing, divorce mediation is often a great way to save time, stress and money by resolving your areas of disagreement out of court. As a divorce mediation attorney in Austin, I often see that even the most hotly contested and seemingly bitter divorces can be resolved through divorce mediation in Austin, TX.
What is divorce mediation in Austin, TX?
Mediation in divorce cases is a process where you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, known as a mediator. The mediator is often an experienced family lawyer or retired family law judge, and Austin divorce mediators are responsible for helping you and your spouse to reach an agreement in your divorce case.
Mediation takes place outside of court, usually in the mediator’s office. It is an informal setting. For example, most Austin divorce lawyers don’t wear a suit and tie to mediation.
During mediation, most Austin divorce mediators will put you and your lawyer in one room and your spouse and your spouse’s lawyer in a different room. The mediator will then go back and forth between rooms, carrying information and settlement offers that you authorize the mediator to share with your spouse.
I recall a study concluding that people are more likely to take firm negotiating positions while sitting on a hard chair, and more likely to compromise in soft chairs. Mediation is designed to be like a soft chair. There will often be a plate full of cookies on the table in your room when you arrive at mediation.
If you reach agreement in mediation, then you and your spouse will sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement before anyone leaves mediation. You’ll hear divorce mediators in Austin, TX say “MSA” instead of Mediated Settlement Agreement.
As a general rule, Mediated Settlement Agreements are irrevocable, meaning that it’s very difficult for anyone to change their mind after mediation in a divorce case. Once the Mediated Settlement Agreement is signed by all parties and filed with the court, it is often (but not always) a straightforward path from divorce mediation toward finalizing your divorce.
How does divorce mediation in Austin, TX work?
You may never see your spouse during mediation. Austin divorce mediators often try to coordinate mediation so that you don’t even run into your spouses in the hallway during mediation or the parking lot afterward.
You and your lawyer will sit together in one room during mediation. Your spouse and your spouse’s lawyer will sit in a different room. The mediator goes back and forth between rooms conveying information and proposed settlement offers.
Austin divorce mediators cannot share information with your spouse during mediation unless you give them permission.
Austin divorce mediators will push both sides and challenge both sides’ positions in order to move everyone toward agreement.
Is divorce mediation confidential?
Is divorce mediation confidential? This is a question I get all the time as a divorce mediation lawyer in Austin, TX.
Mediation is confidential as a general rule, which means two things. First, the mediator is not allowed to share information with your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer during mediation without your permission.
Second, the Texas Rules of evidence say that settlement discussions in mediation can’t be used in court against you. This rule makes sense because the goal of mediation is to facilitate agreement without fear that making a reasonable settlement offer now could possibly be used against you later.
So, while certain exceptions exist (e.g., information about danger to a child), mediation is confidential as a general rule.
Should I Mediate My Divorce Case?
There are some really great reasons to choose divorce mediation in Austin, TX:
- You don’t have to go to court. Mediation takes place outside the courtroom. If you’re able to reach agreement with your spouse in mediation, then it’s possible you can finalize your divorce without having to go to court. In a divorce in Austin, TX, going to court with your spouse is time consuming, emotionally difficult, and expensive. For these reasons, settling a divorce out of court through mediation is great if you can reach an agreement that’s fair to you.
- Mediation is easier than court. Divorce is a difficult time, and going to trial in your divorce case can create additional difficulties. Going to trial against your spouse is mentally, emotionally, and financially challenging, but it is necessary in cases when agreement cannot be reached between spouses. An experienced Austin divorce lawyer can help to resolve your divorce amicably out of court, or challenge your spouse in a divorce trial if agreement cannot be reached through mediation. If you believe that you and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement that’s fair to you, then divorce mediation is a great tool for reaching an agreed result and avoiding the emotional and monetary expense of a divorce trial.
- Mediation is less expensive than court. Divorce trials are expensive. Even the most experienced Austin divorce lawyers require significant preparation to go to trial in an Austin divorce case. Evidence must be gathered, witnesses need to be identified and interviewed, and legal arguments have to be researched and prepared. In cases involving child custody and complex property division, expert witnesses are often necessary. Most Austin divorce lawyers charge clients on an hourly basis, and the time and dollars quickly add up preparing your case for trial. Successful mediation streamlines the process and reduces expenses for you.
- You may not have a choice. The Court will most likely require you and your spouse to go to mediation before it will hear your case in court. So, even if you believe that mediation would be a waste of time in your case, it may be required. In my experience as a divorce attorney in Austin, TX, however, even the bitterest and most hotly contested divorces can sometimes be resolved in mediation.
As an Austin divorce lawyer, I frequently represent clients in divorce mediation. In many cases, even the bitterest ones, mediation can be a great way to resolve your divorce out of court by agreement, saving you the time, money and emotional toil of fighting your spouse in court.