divorce and child custody mediation

Preparing For Divorce Mediation

Television and the media certainly do not depict divorce and child custody in a positive light. What we see on television and in movies are couples getting a divorce and eventually ending up intensely arguing in the courtroom. The couples getting a divorce are usually mean to each other and their lawyers are no matter. In TV shows, judges even fall asleep in open court if the ongoing trial is without drama. Mind you, this is not the case in real-life divorces.
While it’s possible to be nasty to each other in and outside of the court throughout the entire divorce case, you will have more options than doing just that. In real life, couples undergoing a divorce realize quickly enough that the best way to resolve their issues is to be civil towards each other. Constant fighting is the worst way to resolve issues – most of the time, it does not solve anything. On the other hand, discussing pertinent issues with your spouse with hopes to reach an agreement have higher ‘success rates’ in terms of getting what you want and ending up with a divorce that is satisfactory for both parties. Not only that but going for this option will help you avoid having to appear in court. This commonly overlooked, but useful option is mediation.

Important Things To Know About Mediation

If you have read through some of our blog posts, you would have pretty much many ideas now about mediation. Mediation is simply put, a confidential session – which means that whatever you discussed during your mediation sessions will not be available at the District Clerk’s office. Mediation requires a third-party neutral intermediary who can assist both you and your spouse in resolving the issues that surround your divorce. The mediator will help you communicate with each other, so he or she will have to go back and forth between you and your spouse. This way, you can draft potential agreements and get what you want out of the divorce without getting your case litigated.

Who Can Be the Mediator in Your Divorce and Child Custody Case?

Usually, those who act as mediators are experienced and practicing family law attorneys. Anyone can actually mediate a case but it’s ideally someone who has previous experience with mediation. The judge can also order an attorney whom the court trusts to mediate for your case. It’s always better to have a mediator with experience because there are issues in divorce and child custody cases that should be handled by a professional mediator.

What Will You Discuss in a Mediation?

Everything that would otherwise be covered in court and would be included in your final divorce decree will also be discussed in a mediation. This means that the separation of your assets and property, and child custody, visitation and support issues will be included in the mediation discussion as well. As you can imagine, if the discussion will be left to you and your spouse and each of your attorneys, you’d probably get emotional, sidetracked or distracted. It might be more difficult to reach a settlement or an agreement regarding your divorce and child custody issues. Having a mediator ensures that your discussion will be focused on matters that you need to decide on. The mediator will control the discussion so that everything will be in order. Hence, there will be no chance for you or your spouse to dig up each past wrongdoing that you have done to each other.

How Mediations Go

Since the mediator can flit back and forth between two parties during the mediation, you can ask the mediator to keep certain information confidential if needed. If you make such a request, the mediator will not relay the information to the other party. When you reach any kind of agreement the mediator for your divorce and child custody case will create the MSA document which will then be used as a blueprint for the order that the judge will sign to finalize your divorce. MSA stands for Mediated Settlement Agreement.
There are just two important things you have to remember. First, your mediator cannot advise you or your spouse regarding an issue in your divorce and child custody case. The mediator can only give general advise. Also, the mediator cannot be called to the court to testify in front of the judge. In case you have unsettled issues after your mediation sessions and you end up in court, the mediator cannot testify against you or your spouse.

Your Attitude At Mediation

During mediation, you and your spouse will probably frustrate each other a lot. You would probably say that there’s no way a mediation could work considering how stubborn your spouse could be. You could be feeling pessimistic about the whole thing, but all you need to do is actually give mediation a try. After all, there’s no harm in trying it out. In case it won’t work in settling your divorce and child custody issues, you will end up in court anyway. So why not try to settle first? It would save you time, effort and money and you could end up happier with the result of your mediation than you would with the judge’s decision.

Hiring an Attorney

Even with a professional and experienced mediator, you can still hire an attorney to give you necessary advice regarding your issues. Hiring an attorney will help you keep your divorce short and simple. For sure, you have goals you want to achieve by the end of the divorce ordeal. You need to find an attorney who can work with you to reach the goals you have in mind.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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