Divorce cases have traditionally involved the husband and the wife each getting their own lawyer, filing a lawsuit for divorce, and then, treating the case much like any other civil case: setting hearings on preliminary matters that should be resolved early in the case; sending and responding to written discovery requests; taking depositions of each other, along with any other witnesses who know things that are important to the case; attempting to negotiate a settlement of the issues of the case; and finally, if no agreement has been reached, setting the case for a contested trial.  Most Texas Courts also now require the parties and their lawyers in a divorce case to spend a full day in mediation prior to the trial date. These steps make up the Litigation Process. It is time-consuming and costly.

But, there is another way to resolve divorce cases, even when all of the issues are not agreed on by the husband and wife at the start of the case. This process is called Divorce Mediation. This process is usually substantially quicker and less expensive than the Litigation Process described in the paragraph above. Let’s see how the Divorce Mediation Process works.

When the husband and wife decide to use Divorce Mediation, they do not each hire a lawyer and begin fighting the case. Instead, they agree on one Divorce Mediation lawyer to assist them in working towards a resolution of the case. This Divorce Mediation lawyer first learns from them what the contested issues are, gathers information, then leads mediation to try to reach a settlement. If and when a settlement is reached (and, settlements are reached in most cases that use this process), the terms of the settlement are reduced to writing, and signed by the parties. With the difficult part of the case (resolving contested issues) behind them, the parties can, then, choose to finalize the case themselves, or to hire another lawyer to prepare the final divorce paperwork, and present it to the court, in a process known as a Divorce Prove-up.

The Divorce Mediation process will usually go more smoothly and quickly if both parties have full information about bank accounts, retirement accounts, the house payment or rent, the bills, and any other financial matter. And, if they have minor children, then each parent should inform himself or herself about each child’s current situation, such as the child’s medical condition, and any existing academic issues. When the parties have the same information about these matters, the Divorce Mediator can, then, lead a discussion of the issues, develop settlement proposals for the parties, and work towards attempting to have the parties reach agreement on the issues of the case. This process usually yields positive results, if both parties are ready for the divorce to happen, and are willing to work in good faith towards reaching agreements.

Divorce Mediation has advantages over the Litigation Process. When issues are resolved in Divorce Mediation, the process is private. Contrast that with contested cases, where court filings are made that can be seen by anyone in the public who wants to look at those filings. Also, the Divorce Mediation process provides a greater opportunity for the parties to be civil to each other, which is important when they have to co-parent one or more children together. And, it is usually less expensive and quicker.

Divorce Mediation is a relatively new process. The days when divorces had to involve people publicly fighting issues in a court are behind us. While not every case is suitable for Divorce Mediation, most are.

For information on how to get ready for a divorce, please see 8 Steps to Take to Prepare for Divorce.

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