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4 Things to Know Before Going to Your Divorce Mediation

One of the biggest steps in some divorce processes is the mediation. Through mediation, the parties and their attorneys meet and discuss the division of assets, along with other elements of a divorce like child custody.  It is important to note that a mediation is by far the most cost effective manner in which to settle a heated divorce case.  In most counties in the Houston are, mediation is REQUIRED prior to a formal temporary orders hearing.  Mediation is also REQUIRED prior to trial.

In many cases, the mediation process gives each spouse a chance to split up assets fairly without the decision being put to a judge through a trial. The idea of a mediation may be overwhelming for many people, so preparation is often key.

Learn about four things you should know before you go to a mediation. The knowledge will help you get through the process and prevent any problems down the line.

1. Mediation Time Schedules

When a mediation is proposed, typically your attorney will recommend either a full day or half day mediation.  A half day mediation tends to be the most common and last  around four hours while a full day will be twice that length.  During the mediation, the mediator typically will do their best to split time evenly between the parties.  However, if one side is more amicable and has agreed to the mediator’s recommendations while the other side is less agreeable, the mediator may spend more time with that side in attempt to negotiate and arrive at a settlement.

2. Private Conversations

A mediation in the Houston area, does not look like what you have seen on TV or in the movies.  Parties are NOT in the same room.  The parties sit in separate rooms and the mediator moves back and forth.  During certain periods of time, you may have questions or comments for your lawyer that you wish to keep confidential.  Mediators will encourage such private discussions – often the mediator will be out of the room for a long stretch of time anyway and that time allows you and your lawyer to discuss matters privately.   Texas mediators also will keep confidential discussions that occurs when they are in the room if you request confidentiality.   If you wish the mediator to share any parf the conversation you have, you can certainly give the mediator the green light to do so.

3. Mediator Roles

Mediators do not give legal advice – they do not act as a party’s attorney; what they will do is use their extensive experience to inform the parties what is most likely to occur in a formal court proceeding. If an agreement is not obtained at mediation, often a formal temporary orders hearing or final trial becomes necessary.  Mediators are not witnesses in a Texas formal court proceeding.  Also, once a temporary orders hearing or trial begins, nothing said in mediation will be held against you or used as any type of evidence. The mediator must keep the discussions confidential, allowing you to be open and honest during mediation sessions.

With the understanding that a mediator cannot testify on things you said, you will have the ability to get through each session with ease.

4. Notes and Lists

Anyone who goes through a divorce has a lot of stress to deal with. In many cases, you may forget or not realize something specific you wanted to bring up in mediation.

Notes and lists are ideal reminders. Before your mediation session, make a full list of topics you want to bring up. During the session, you may also jot down notes or reminders for later in the session and after the session.

As you reflect afterward, continue to take notes and make lists of divorce topics you want to discuss. All of the notes will ensure you do not miss anything.

For more information on the divorce and mediation process, contact our professionals today at C.E. Schmidt & Associates PLLC. We have decades of experience and knowledge in the area of divorce and will help guide you along the way. We are happy to answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns.

Contested, Uncontested, Flat-fee, Hourly … WHAT?

Why am I being charged hourly instead of having a “flat fee”?

Many lawyers and law firms that work in the area of family law, label cases and “categorize” a case by looking at the level of conflict that exists between the parties.  Are the parties calm, cool and ready to proceed with their lives, or are they angry and bitter and itching to fight.

Many attorneys and firms such as C.E. Schmidt and Associates classify a case as an “amicable” case when the parties to the conflict are in agreement with respect to the terms and conditions of the ultimate outcome.  For instance, if the spouses have been able to set aside strong emotions and have worked together to make difficult decisions such as how the equity in the house will be divided or with whom the children will live the majority of the time – a flat fee – one fee that covers the legal work from beginning to end is the way to go.  When couples agree to be agreeable and can formulate a workable plan, the attorney can execute all the procedurally necessary legal steps to bring about the ultimate concluding order — the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.   The legal fees that result in such a divorce process can be quite modest and affordable.  This is the beauty of a flat fee divorce.

On the other hand, the high octane fire that is burning in a extremely contested case makes it impossible to set a flat fee.  Will depositions be taken?  What about “discovery” (the litigation tool that enables each side to fully examine the evidence that the other side has) – will we need a formal Temporary Orders hearing or will a mediation suffice?  Ultimately will the case go to trial?  Going through a highly contested divorce process can be analogized to receiving cancer treatment.   Depending on the type of cancer and one’s oncologist, surgery may be recommended, radiation, or multiple rounds of chemo.  As each body reacts differently to various forms of treatment, ultimately bringing cancer into remission can be a totally unpredictable process .  Similarly, each divorcing spouse may react differently to being questioned during a deposition or having to answer interrogatories (a fancy lawyer word for questions).   Will a party crumble on the stand in a formal hearing or will that party conduct themselves in a calm, cool, and collected manner.  This is the contested case – the case where a client is charged by the hour — most experienced family law practitioners know better than litigate such a case on a flat fee basis.  If an attorney doesn’t understand the quicksand they might be in, they will figure it out very soon — your case may suffer considerably in the process.

The conclusion of a highly contested case may take 6 months or 2 and a half years — 35 hours of work or 100 hours of work.  To predict the required time frame requires a crystal ball.  The lawyer that can “see” what is in the “contested case crystal ball” is most likely not the lawyer with enough experience to understand what they are getting into!

What is your situation?  Schedule an appointment with C.E. Schmidt and Associates PLLC today for a free consultation and let us give you the straight story on what may likely be required to conclude your family law matter.

Why Do We Provide a Free Consultation?

The answer is simple. One of the most difficult decisions a grieving person – one who is deciding to divorce is a grieving person for sure – can make is the decision regarding which attorney of the literally hundreds of attorneys in the Houston area to retain. Often those on the verge of a divorce are experiencing confusion and heightened emotions. An attorney should help the prospective client to begin to feel more calm and reassured. The prospective client needs to feel connected, respected, and in tune with their attorney. Likewise, the attorney must feel a connection with that potential client.

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