We all know divorces can be difficult as there are a lot of unanswered questions you may be having for a divorce lawyer. In this article, we want to help you understand mediation in a divorce, so you know all of your options and paperwork expectations ahead of time.
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Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Everything You Need to Know About Mediation
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is when you and your spouse are having difficulties coming to an agreement on the final terms of the divorce. This can be because of civil reasons or one party being particularly dead-set on a specific part of the divorce proceedings. Typically, the mediator splits you and your spouse up with your respective attorneys and takes the time to learn each party’s side, what they want out of the divorce, and what issues need to be resolved.
If the mediation is successful, then you and your spouse both sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement which is 100% binding. This cannot be undone or changed later, except in the case of fraud or if one part hid sizable assets from the mediated settlement agreement.
What Is Determined in Mediation?
With the help of a trained mediator, you, your spouse, and your attorneys will examine all disputes for the terms of the divorce. Disputes can look like issues with establishing paternity, child custody or visitation rights, separation of private vs community debt, or even who gets the dog. Since mediation can take place before or after a divorce petition has been filed, it is designed to keep your divorce from becoming contested (which can take much longer to settle).
How To Prepare for Mediation
Discuss with your divorce attorney what your goals are for the mediation. What are the issues keeping the divorce from moving forward? What is your best/worst-case scenario? Mediators do not allow non-parties to be present – but do you need a translator?
Is there a medical condition that requires you to have a family member with you in case something happens? These are all questions to discuss with divorce mediation lawyers in Sugar Land TX before meeting the mediator.
Your Mediation Is Confidential
Everything that is said or happens during mediation is 100% confidential between you, your spouse, your attorneys, and the mediator. Nothing mentioned in mediation can be brought up later in court because it is already considered “finished” due to the mediated settlement agreement. However, the mediator can share information from one spouse to the other if you have not clearly indicated you don’t want the other party to know.
Mediation Lasts All Day
Most mediation cases only take 1 work day, however, there are always exceptions. Make sure to dress comfortably and bring any medication you may need to take throughout the day. Check with your mediation law office to see if they will provide lunch or if you have to bring food.
Get a good night’s rest the night before, and don’t try to rush the process. If you’re lucky, your case may be resolved within a few hours. When mediation can’t be reached, some cases can take up to 4 days. Once the process starts, it can’t easily be stopped and picked back up again. Just remember everyone wants to reach an agreement, even if both parties want different things.
Mediation Can Be Required
The judge holds the power to require mediation in any divorce case. If this happens, you are required to attend mediation to find a solution between you and your spouse. In Texas, any divorce that involves contested custody of minors must go through mediation. However, if you fear for your safety because of your spouse, you and your attorney can file an objection to mediation. There must be proof of past family violence toward the objecting party.
Mediators Are Held to Ethical Guidelines
As outlined in the 1994 ADR section of the State Bar of Texas, mediators are required to uphold a code of ethics while they practice. A mediator cannot use the clients’ information for their own personal gain or advantage, and the clients’ interests must always come before the mediator’s personal opinions. Mediators should not accept mediations that cannot be completed in a timely manner, and they cannot solicit specific cases or matters – the clients must come to them.
Mediators cannot mediate a dispute if another mediator is already involved (only one mediator per case at a time), and they should never take a case where they are personally involved with one of the parties/their opinions may be compromised.
The number of terms and definitions in a divorce can be overwhelming, so we hope that this list of mediation facts can lessen your stress as you proceed through the process. Some of the more important facts to remember include: Your mediation is confidential, mediation can be required, mediation often lasts all day, and mediators follow ethical guidelines designed to protect you and your case.