Divorce Mediation – What Is It And How Does It Work?
What is a Mediator?
A mediator is a neutral person that uses his or her skills as a mediator to work with the parties and resolve disputes. Many mediators are retired judges or lawyers whose background and skills are specific to the issues in a divorce. A mediator is not the judge or arbitrator in the case, and therefore cannot order or compel anyone to settle.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Typically in divorce mediation, the parties are in separate rooms. The mediator goes back and forth between the rooms working with the parties to find common ground and reach agreements. At the end of the mediation, a Mediated Settlement Agreement is drafted and signed that reflects all agreements reached between the parties. If no agreements are reached, the mediator declares impasse and the parties are excused.
Is Mediation Confidential?
Everything said to the mediator is confidential. The mediator can only disclose and share those conversations and positions the party authorizes be shared in the other room. The mediator must also keep secret any specific issues the party discloses in confidence. Additionally, everything that happens at mediation is confidential and cannot be disclosed outside of mediation. The mediator cannot be compelled to testify at any hearing or trial about what a party said or a position the party took in mediation. You are therefore free to have open and honest discussions with the mediator without fear of harming your case.
Is Mediation Effective?
Mediation is highly effective. The vast majority of cases mediated result in settlement. Consequently, most courts in Texas require mediation before the courts will hear temporary orders or final trials in divorce cases.
Is Mediation Appropriate For My Case?
While it is very effective at resolving disputes, divorce mediation is not for every case. For example, cases involving family violence may not be appropriate for divorce mediation. Additionally, the timing of divorce mediation is critical to its success. Talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case to determine whether divorce mediation is a good fit for your circumstances.