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.