When a marriage ends, you and your spouse may feel a range of emotions, such as anger, sadness, grief and regret. After these initial painful feelings subside, however, you can see the value in an amicable divorce without a protracted court battle.

With an alternative dispute resolution technique called mediation, partners who are separating can come to an agreement on the terms of a divorce without the time, stress and expense of a long legal process.

How does mediation work?

With mediation, a family law attorney or another qualified individual serves as a neutral third party during a meeting at which divorcing partners strive to reach an agreement on issues such as property division, child custody and financial support. Many Texas counties require an attempt at mediation before these issues come before the family court.

Depending on the number and complexity of the issues you and your spouse need to address, mediation can last just one session or take place in several sessions over weeks or months. The mediator will ask you to prepare necessary documents, such as financial records, to ensure that sessions are productive.

What are the benefits of seeking mediation?

Even if you think you will never be able to agree with your former spouse, consider these advantages of attempting amicable resolution:

  • When both parties agree to try resolution, the success rate for reaching an agreement is high.
  • Mediation is completely private, unlike a court hearing which becomes public record.
  • Mediation is less costly than a court proceeding.
  • You can hire an attorney to review the agreement reached in mediation and make sure it protects your interests.
  • Flexible and creative solutions are more readily available than when a judge makes these decisions.
  • Mediation allows you to lay the foundation for a cooperative future relationship with your ex-spouse, which is especially important when you are sharing child custody.

Once you reach an agreement in mediation, it is presented to the court and becomes legally binding after both parties sign. If outstanding issues remain, a judge can decide these without affecting agreements made in mediation.