Texas divorce attorneys and Certified Divorce Specialists are often asked how mediation works under the Texas Family Code. Mediation can be an effective means of resolving divorce and custody issues, but attorneys must understand the process fully to advise clients.
Under §6.602, Texas mandates mediation in divorce suits affecting the parent-child relationship. Exceptions apply in cases involving domestic violence. The goal is reaching a compromise without going to trial. An impartial mediator facilitates discussion but does not represent either party.
Prior to mediation, attorneys typically exchange briefs outlining their positions on matters like property division and child custody. The mediator reviews the briefs and leads a full-day conference, aiming to identify interests underlying disputed issues.
If successful, mediation concludes with a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA becomes binding once signed by parties and their counsel. Per §6.602, the MSA is not subject to revocation unless procured by fraud, coercion/duress, undue influence, or other dishonest means.
Benefits of mediation include:
Avoiding costly litigation expenses – so long as the mediation proves productive in eliminating litigation.
Creative solutions not available via Court order due to limitations imposed by the judicial process.
Privacy, as settlements remain confidential – very useful in High Net Worth and Celebrity divorces.
However, mediation does not guarantee resolution. Attorneys must still prepare clients and argue their case as if going to trial. If mediation fails, litigation proceeds.
From an ethical perspective, attorneys should ensure clients understand what negotiable is. An MSA should only be signed when a party comprehends the terms fully. Consultation with Financial Advisors is prudent before signing.
In conclusion, mediation can produce optimal outcomes in divorce cases, but only with thorough preparation by counsel. I advise clients to discuss mediation fully with their attorney and ensure that they have held several divorce mediation sessions so that they have sufficient experience and understanding before navigating mediation strategically to protect their interests under the law. Though sometimes tedious, the mediation process rewards those willing to negotiate in good faith.
If you are thinking of, or in the middle of a divorce, we want you to know you're not alone and we’re here to help. If you would like to discuss how we can assist you with your future plans, please give me a call at 469-556-1185.
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