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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Dealing with court-ordered mediation

Many Texas court systems recommend, offer or order mediation services for divorcing couples. Understanding the court's position on this conflict-resolution tool often helps litigants get the most out of mandatory mediation sessions. There is not much continuity within the different circuits, but there are some predictable elements. 

One common theme is that non-economic issues regarding children tend to be the most commonly mediated disputes. Another is that, while assistance is often available, it is typically only provided to couples with significant financial need.

As mentioned in FindLaw, there are many possible issues generated by custody conflicts during divorce. Some of these are extreme and even criminal, such as child abduction. Others simply strain the resources of the court and the parties to the divorce with interminable arguments and delays. Mediation is often preferred to formal action because it allows the divorcing parties to establish an understanding. These ideas could then inform the drafting of a formal divorce agreement.

The benefits of mediation also include education. An informed intermediary would typically be able to help both parties understand the rules of the divorce process, resulting in better cooperation going forward. Courts often subsidize or provide mediation for this purpose. Harris County is one example, where brief mediation sessions are often available for couples with few resources.

The Harris County program for mediation could be a good start, but personal representation is often a better way to secure individual goals. Mediators work for the good of the group and the court system, but attorneys work towards the interests of individual parties. Together, these two approaches often result in a favorable resolution to a contested element of a divorce.

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