Mediation 101


Almost all Texas divorces go through mediation before they go to trial-in hopes of avoiding a trial-so it’s useful to know what mediation is and isn’t.

What does divorce mediation entail?

In family law mediation, the divorcing couple goes to a designated meeting spot, with each spouse and his or her attorney in separate rooms. In most cases, the parties will not see each other during the mediation.

A mediator, who is a neutral person trained in mediation and preferably a skilled attorney hired for the purpose of conducting the mediation, goes back and forth between the rooms and tries to negotiate enough common ground to settle the case. If the case is settled, a Mediated Settlement Agreement is prepared and a Final Order is prepared at a later date to include the required legal language and the specifics of the agreement, if appropriate. Once signed, both sides are entitled to a Judgment on Mediated Settlement Agreement. That means if someone signs an MSA, he or she should not plan on getting out of the deal later.

Mediation can end in one of four ways:

1) Settlement of all of the issues;
2) Settlement of some of the issues, leaving some to be tried to the court;
3) Recess, which means the parties will come back to mediation another time; or
4) Impasse, meaning the parties couldn’t come to an agreement and the case will go back to the court.

Most cases settle before they are tried, whether in mediation or otherwise, and, generally, Judges will require mediation before trial.