Is mediation right for your Texas divorce or family law dispute?

The courtroom can be a daunting place for people unfamiliar with the legal system. Having a judge - who doesn't know you or your family and is guided solely by testimony and facts presented to him or her - make life-changing decisions that will significantly impact your family can be both stressful and dissatisfying. While judges are guided by the laws of the state of Texas, they make determinations based on the facts of a case, not the nuances present in every family dynamic. Many people feel helpless in that situation, and are anxious that a stranger has complete control over their lives.

There is hope, though. The traditional method of having the judge make decisions if an agreement cannot be reached is not the only option for resolving family law disputes. There are other, more interactive options that are statistically more likely to produce workable solutions that everyone involved can accept.

Consider mediation

You are much more likely to feel engaged in the process and better about the future if you feel you have some control over the outcome of your divorce, custody dispute, child support case or other family law matter. That is where alternative resolution methods like mediation can be invaluable.

Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party - the mediator - helps guide parties to a resolution. The mediator is not there to make the decision, but instead works as a conduit through which the parties can craft their own agreement. Mediators do not provide legal advice, nor do they order the parties to accept one particular solution.

Instead, parties are represented by their own attorneys, and the mediator works by:

  • Gathering information from all participants
  • Understanding each party's goals and expectations
  • Relaying that information to other parties
  • Ensuring that the parties stay focused on the goal
  • Controlling the tone of the proceedings
  • Using a combination of techniques, joint sessions and private meetings to guide the parties toward resolution

Especially useful for families with children

Not only have studies shown that a greater percentage of participants report satisfaction with mediated outcomes than courtroom outcomes, the mediator's ability to keep emotions in check and encourage cooperation often helps where children are involved. By making the parties behave in a dignified, respectful manner toward one another, mediation can help dampen lingering animosity in custody disputes and put the parties in a good position to put their child's needs and interests first.

Mediation is a great method to encourage cooperation and allow parties control over their own destiny. It isn't right for every situation, though. To find out if the mediation process is a good fit for your unique family-related legal matter, seek the advice of a Texas family law attorney.