When a Houston couple contemplates a divorce, most spouses anticipate a lengthy process filled with anger, accusation and nearly unbearable stress. These fears are multiplied if the couple has young children or if they must divide substantial assets. The Texas family bar and the courts have developed several alternatives to a standard divorce proceeding that are aimed to reduce or eliminate the emotional burdens of the process. One of the most successful and most popular alternatives is mediation. Unfortunately, many people have never heard of mediation or are unfamiliar with how it works.
In its simplest form, mediation consists of discussions between the divorcing spouses and a neutral third person who is trained in how to bring forth each party’s concerns and how to resolve disputes. The law does not require that couples use mediation, but most judges will order divorcing couples to participate in a preliminary mediation session before setting the case for trial.
A couple who wishes to give mediation a try will first select a mediator. Mediators are not licensed, but most them have been certified as having received mediation training. The training comprises understanding the value of a neutral third party, how to elicit essential concerns from each party without taking sides, and how to suggest potential compromise solutions.
Most mediators begin the process with the most essential information: the mediator is neutral and cannot make any decisions that will affect the outcome. Instead, the mediator will suggest solutions and will assist the parties in reaching an acceptable compromise. Any agreement must be the result of the parties’ agreement. No agreement can be made final if one party objects to it.
Most couples who have resorted to mediation have found that the process tends to significantly reduce stress and ill will far below anticipated levels. Anyone who needs more information about mediation may wish to contact an experienced divorce attorney for advice.