Mediation is a four hour process in which a mediator works with both sides in a family law case to resolve the case through agreement. The parties are kept in separate rooms during mediation, meaning that you may never see your spouse or the other parent at mediation. The mediator then goes back and forth between the two rooms. This is crucial to the process as yelling at each other across a table causes emotions to swell and tempers to flare, making the process more difficult.
Mediation forces the parties and the attorneys to dedicate four continuous hours to trying to reach an agreement. Informal settlement discussions outside of mediation can drag on for months, with offers going back and forth from week to week. Even if an informal settlement is reached outside of mediation, you as the client may well have incurred more fees than you would have in mediation aside from the delay in reaching the settlement. Lots of cases settle informally and are resolved in an efficient fashion. However, when there is some conflict or there is a significant rift between the settlement proposals, then mediation is often the most efficient way to resolve a case.
Mediation resolves a vast number of cases due to a number of factors. First, the mediator shares his or her views with each party on the case, providing an objective perspective. The mediator discusses probable outcomes in Court and the relevant law. These are discussions that have probably already transpired between attorney and client, but sometimes require revisiting by the mediator.
Second, trials are expensive, time consuming, and stressful for the parties. If you have a trial and go through the discovery process to obtain evidence, then your legal bills dramatically increase. Money that could jump start the next phase of your life is going to be consumed by the fighting in Court.
Third, parties do not really want to roll the dice with the Court in a trial. Yes, certain outcomes are fairly predictable in a case, but you always run the risk of receiving a ruling from the Court that does not work for either party.
Fourth, we can get creative in mediation to find solutions because the process provides flexibility in crafting a settlement. If you want an order that fits your particular circumstances, it can be crafted in mediation. The Texas Family Code causes Courts to often use one-size fits all orders, but we can reach a custom tailored settlement in mediation.
Finally, by reaching an agreement, you establish more of a cooperative framework in regards to co-parenting and resolving future disputes. It's unlikely that your ex is going to be your best friend moving forward, and your relationship will probably be heated for a period of time after the case is resolved. However, if you have a child or children together then as a practical matter, you need to co-parent to some extent and form a united front on certain issues. By resolving your case by agreement, you're more likely to resolve smaller, informal disputes by agreement. Eventually, you're going to want to trade visitation weekends for convenience. One day, the two of you will have to make sure that your child's school project gets done after starting it at one parent's house and finishing it at the other's home. Your life will become less stressful if you learn to compromise with each other after your case ends. Mediation is an opportunity for the two of you to begin finding that middle ground for the years to come.