Of all the tools available to an individual going through a family law case in Texas, mediation is probably the most powerful and effective. This may come as a surprise given how unfamiliar many people are with mediation at the beginning of their child custody or divorce case. If you fall into the category of someone confused or even unaware of what mediation is then today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is for you. I think that once you find out what mediation is you may become less apprehensive and more confident in your ability to proceed with a family law case.
What is mediation?
The funny thing about mediation is that I think many people are unaware or confused about what mediation is based solely on the fact that it sounds like several different words. Mediation sort of sounds like meditation, media, meditate, and a host of other words. For this reason, I think people, in general, get confused about what mediation is and the benefits it can provide to you and your family during a child custody or divorce case. While this may be an overly simplistic way of approaching the subject, I do think there is some merit in being able to approach this subject from this perspective.
To be sure, I have never known a person who was excited or overly eager to get a family law case started. Even people who understood that divorce was probably in the best interests in that of their family were not excited about starting the divorce as they would be excited about going on a vacation or finding a $20 bill in their jeans pocket. Rather, most people approach a divorce or a child custody case as someone who understands the necessity of what they’re getting into but may not be overly excited about beginning this process. However, my goal in writing this blog post is to help you understand what it takes to go through a family law case and how mediation can help you get from point A to point B.
When we talk about mediation, we are referencing a mutually agreed meeting of you and your opposing party with an independent, third-party mediator or family attorney. Typically, the mediator that you end up having your mediation with will either be a practicing family law attorney, retired family law attorney, or retired family court judge. Each of these types of people possesses different advantages when it comes to being able to help you complete your tell me my case. Former judges possess a keen understanding of the Texas family code, have ruled in cases like yours, and can give you a good perspective as to what to expect in the courtroom if you fail to settle your case.
Retired family law attorneys and currently practicing family law attorneys can offer you similar vantage points to retired court judges but can also help you to think outside the box when it comes to creative solutions to your problems. Being able to help you create flexible yet practical visitation schedules, child support payment amounts that correspond to the needs of your children, and the limitations of your income, and creative methods of dividing Community property or all benefits that you can gain from attending mediation. Although many people assume things about family law cases that are not accurate the reality is that mediation is one of the most surefire methods that you can employ to complete your divorce in a timely and effective manner. If you are involved in a child custody case the same can be said.
For the remaining portions of today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I’m going to share with you some FAQs that the attorneys with our office receive regularly. Additionally, I’m going to provide you with some answers to these FAQs that may be able to better guide you during your time leading up to a divorce or child custody case. While we hope that many of the questions that you have been wondering about are answered in today’s blog post our attorneys understand that you may have concerns that lie beyond what is discussed in today’s blog post.
With that said, if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
When does mediation typically take place in a child custody or divorce case?
For the most part, you can expect to attend mediation twice in your family law case in Texas. The first time is before a temporary orders hearing. A temporary orders hearing will seek to define the terms by which you and your opposing party proceed in your family law case. In a child custody case, this typically means defining how much child support is paid each month, a visitation schedule for both parents to abide by as well as conservatorships rights and duties. Mediation allows for you and your opposing party two determine these issues together before a hearing. Thereby negating the need for a courtroom appearance and reducing the overall time and money spent on your case.
The second session of mediation that you are likely to partake in during your Texas family law case is just before your trial. The mediation session that you attend before trial will be similar in its structure to the mediation that you attend before temporary orders hearings, in addition, much of the subject matter discussed in mediation before trial will be the same or slightly different than what you experienced in your temporary orders mediation. However, some of the subject matter that you will discuss is unique to the trial mediation stage.
For example, in a divorce case, you will discuss how to divide up your community estate during the final orders mediation session. Almost none of your temporary orders hearing will have to do with the Community property division. For that reason, you need to have documentation and proposals ready when it comes to dividing your community estate in a final order scenario. One of the most frustrating parts of a final orders mediation session is when a party does not come prepared.
in a final order session for a child custody case, you need to have proposals on the table for child custody, child support, and conservatorships. One of the things that your mediator and attorney are likely to share with you before final orders mediation is that when it comes to child custody the temporary orders of your case tend to be very similar to what your final orders end up being. Hopefully, this means that you were able to agree on temporary orders that suit you and your family well. If not, your opposing party may be less willing to negotiate with you in final orders mediation given that he or she is under the impression that a judge is more likely to uphold temporary orders and make the final. However, you should consult with your experienced family law attorney about this subject to make sure that your circumstances are considered when going through this process.
Keep in mind, that I have seen family court judges order parties to attend mediation more than once before a temporary order hearing as well as before a trial. These are in situations where a judge believes that the issues facing the parties are more substantial than what he or she could fairly determine or decide in a trial or temporary orders hearing. As a result, these judges will encourage the parties to attend mediation more than one time to make every effort possible to settle their case rather than go to a trial where the result may not be in the best interest of a child, or either party. This is not the norm, but it may occur in your circumstance, as well.
How do you prepare for mediation?
Preparing for mediation is something that cannot be done overnight. I liken it to studying for a major exam. I remember in law school how for most courses there were no daily assignments hand only a midterm and final exam. This is very similar to how a divorce or child custody case is set up. You have two opportunities 2 make an impact positively in your case. While I would not say that there are no other important opportunities to do well in your case other than mediation for temporary orders and final orders, certainly it would be aviation that stands out in my mind as being of the most importance.
Therefore, it would make sense for you to be able to put your best foot forward to prepare more than adequately for mediation. If you are struggling with the amount of information presented thus far in today’s blog post that is probably a good sign that you would stand to benefit a great deal from having an experienced family law attorney to represent you in your divorce or child custody case. As it pertains to mediation, having an experienced family law attorney can mean a world of difference when it comes to preparing for either of these two types of mediation. Think of mediation as an enormously important group activity. In a situation like that, you would stand to benefit from having an experienced partner to work alongside rather than must go about preparation all on your own. In this circumstance, your attorney is that experienced partner.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan prepare mediation notebooks for our attorneys and their clients. All the documents filed in the case, a timeline of events as well as any financial or child custody-related paperwork necessary for the case will be included within the mediation notebook. Conveniently, if the parties are not successful in settling their case in mediation the mediation notebook can do a lot of good and double as a trial notebook. However, the thought heading into mediation is to be able to settle your case completely or at the very least settle on the most outstanding issues. Coming in prepared with documents, especially for final orders mediation is extremely important.
For instance, suppose that you and your spouse are negotiating final orders regarding the Division of your community estate. As a result, having up-to-date figures regarding your retirement accounts, checking and savings account, household debt, mortgages, and other financial realities is of extreme importance. Going to mediation without this up-to-date information would not only be a big mistake but what else should be a missed opportunity. There are only so many times in a family law case to both you and your Co-parent or opposing party will be present together in a circumstance where everyone’s objective will be to try and settle your case. Mediation is one of those times.
It is a good idea to work with your attorney’s office just after hiring them to begin preparation for mediation. It may be that they have a list for you to complete as soon as possible. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will work to get your mediation set as quickly as possible. This way you can get into the mindset associated with the preparation. Once you learn the attorney who will be representing you in your case You should reach out and contact him or her to learn about their specific advice for you in preparing for mediation. Depending on the type of case You may have a different level of preparation That is necessary for your type of case.
Is mediation necessary even if you and your opposing party have already agreed?
One of the interesting questions that I’ve received from time to time from people going through divorce or child custody cases is whether it is necessary to even go to mediation if you already have an agreement in place with your spouse or opposing party in a child custody or divorce case. The thought would be that because you have already sorted through most of the issues in your case that going to mediation would be redundant or unnecessary. I can understand this question given that it may seem like going to mediation won’t solve any issues that have already been solved by you and your opposing party.
However, even in these types of situations, I would still recommend that mediation be attended. My reasoning for this is that mediation is only informal discussions between you and your opposing party. Rather, the result of mediation is a formal document known as a mediated settlement agreement. The mediated settlement agreement contains the totality of the settlements reached by you and your Co-parent or opposing party. This document is extremely important because what is settled upon in mediation cannot be changed the day after.
For example, suppose that you wake up the next morning and regret the decisions that were made in mediation. in a rush, you contact your attorney to see if you can reverse what was agreed to the previous day in mediation. What your attorney would tell you is that what was agreed to in mediation cannot be changed today due to a change of heart. while this may give you some pause when it comes to working through the issues of mediation it should give you some confidence about the process of attending mediation.
my point is that if you and your Co-parent or spouse have informal agreements on the number of issues in your case then you can make them more solid and predictable by getting them into writing. This is the basis for attending mediation. That when you agree on a particular subject you cannot change your mind or try to go against what was decided previously. They should give you some Peace of Mind when it comes to your case. Even if you have a solid plan to settle your case informally, mediation acts as a protection for you and your family.
Everyone reading this blog post stands to benefit from attending mediation. Mediation is one of the great resources that you will encounter in your family law case. The main question is: how prepared for mediation will you be when the time comes?
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s life may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.