What is a Mediated Settlement Agreement in a Texas Divorce?

Blog, Divorce Mediation Lawyer

divorce mediationA few divorce cases go to trial. Perhaps a spouse wants or needs a judicial declaration that the divorce was the other spouse’s fault. Or, maybe the two sides are so far apart in key areas that settlement is impossible. But roughly 95 percent of civil cases settle out of court. As outlined below, such settlement agreements, especially if they happen during mediation, have some concrete benefits for both sides.

Because of the high settlement rate, a Fort Worth divorce mediation lawyer must have more than good litigation skills. Your attorney must also be a good negotiator. In this context, a good negotiator knows when to compromise and when to stand firm. That way, the case doesn’t drag on and on, and the final settlement agreement upholds your key legal and financial rights.

Benefits of Family Law Mediation

Statistically, most divorce litigants initially believe that mediation will be a waste of time. The reason is that if we could have talked through our problems, we wouldn’t be in divorce court in the first place. Yet most people change their tune when they come face-to-face with the three Cs of mediation, which are:

  • Cost: The best Fort Worth divorce mediation lawyers often charge hundreds of dollars an hour. Since time is literally money, the earlier the case ends, the lower the bill is. Furthermore, mediation preparation is much less time-consuming than trial preparation. The Department of Justice estimates that mediation saves civil litigants millions of dollars a year.
    • Control: Many people have a hard time accepting a resolution that a judge or jury dictated with little regard for the everyday needs of a family. Mediation gives the parties almost absolute control over the outcome. That control usually means a higher voluntary compliance rate.
    • Civility: If the spouses have small children, they must be able to get along with each other. Continued turmoil is hard on kids. Emotional courtroom showdowns discourage civility, but mediation encourages civility. On a related note, mediation is empowering. When disputes arise, divorced spouses believe that if they worked out their problems once, they can do so again.

Our Fort Worth divorce mediation lawyers also practice collaborative law, which in many ways is like ongoing mediation. Instead of going to court, the parties meet about once a month to resolve issues like child custody and asset division. The big difference between these two forums is that mediation is part of the litigation process. Collaborative law is a litigation alternative.

What Happens at Divorce Mediation?

A Mediated Settlement Agreement usually covers all issues in a divorce case. That includes both child-related and financial issues. At the end of a mediation session, the parties review and sign the agreement they themselves made. In Texas, mediated settlement agreements are typically binding and the parties may not back out of the agreement.

Procedurally, in Family Law cases, the parties usually are in separate rooms. For the next several hours, a professional mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth between the two sides. This setup is legally effective and can drain much of the emotion from the proceeding.

Mediation has a high degree of success for settling cases. But both parties must earnestly desire a settlement. They cannot just go through the motions. Regardless, mediation is an effective tool to settling a Family Law case.

Contact a Dedicated Divorce Mediation Attorney

Mediation usually works and is almost always at least worth a shot. For a confidential consultation with an experienced divorce mediation lawyer in Dallas contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. at (214) 273-2400. Convenient payment plans are available.