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Ninety percent of cases are actually resolved in mediation. You and I will meet in one room and most of the time, the other attorney and their client will meet in a separate room and the mediator will then go back and forth between both rooms to try and come up with an agreement. Most of the time, one spouse starts with this type of idea where they think they want to be and so does the other spouse. So through the mediation process, we compromise to the point where we can both live with something that we can agree to and sign off on it.

If it’s something that the two of you actually create, it is probably more likely better and more beneficial for your children to follow a mediated settlement agreement, as opposed to allowing the judge to make a decision on your case, being a complete stranger and just another case in the long line of cases that that judge has to rule on that day. You keep control of making decisions on your divorce by participating in successfully coming to an agreement during the mediation process.

Another good advantage to mediation is once we sign off on a mediation settlement agreement, there is no backing out of it. No buyer’s remorse. It’s a done deal. You wouldn’t be able to call me tomorrow and ask, “I kind of don’t agree with what we did in mediation last night. Can I change my mind?” The odds are very slim. It is pretty much a done deal.

So that saves a lot of money in trying to prepare to go forward and prepare for a hearing or a type of trial only to get down to the court and maybe being reset, have to come back on another day at the judge’s convenience, spending more money and time and not getting a result and not having the control that you would have over your life and your children and your finances. Ramos Law Group, PLLC, your family law team of experts.

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Although uncontested divorces do happen, they are few and far between. Most divorces are contested, meaning that one or both of the spouses disagree on at least one issue. There are many facts to consider during a divorce, including division of property, child custody, spousal and child maintenance, and plenty more. One highly effective way to arrive at a suitable compromise is to seek professional mediation. Hiring the right lawyers in Houston, Texas and using a good mediator is the best way to ensure that you will get ideal results when all is said and done and the divorce is final.

Should You Use a Mediator?

Most people going through a divorce find that mediation is an effective way to save time and money. In an emotionally charged situation, it can be difficult to make fair and appropriate decisions on your own. A mediator is an impartial, third party person who will facilitate negotiations, open the lines of communication, and hopefully help both parties to arrive at a compromise that works for everyone.. If you find that you are stuck at a standstill, you may want to consider mediation. Always ask your lawyer in Houston, Texas for advice before agreeing to mediation.

Mediation Vs. a Court Hearing

The advantage of using a mediator is that it can allow you to bypass the hassle of going to court. Waiting times can be quite long, and most people want to get the divorce finalized as soon as possible. If you are able to come to an amicable agreement with just the help of lawyers in Houston, Texas and a mediator, you can avoid going to court entirely. Even if you are not able to agree on all issues, resolving some of them will still make the process easier in the long run.

The Mediation Process

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Three colorful arrow signs reading Your Way, My Way and Compromise, symbolizing the need to settle our differences in a give and take agreement

While every situation is different, you can expect to meet in a series of sessions, each lasting around an hour or two. During the first session, the mediator and spouses will sit down and discuss what issues need to be handled, and the order in which they will be addressed. The mediator will ask both spouses for materials necessary to proceed, such as documentation, financial records, and so on. The mediator will attempt to facilitate an open dialogue during the next sessions. This process will continue until the necessary compromises are reached, or it is established that no further progress can be made.

Does Mediation Replace the Need for an Attorney?

It is absolutely critical that you have your lawyer in Houston, Texas assisting you at all times, including during the mediation process. When your assets, family, and property are at stake, every moment counts. A good lawyer will be able to catch details that you may miss, such as retirement benefits or health coverage. They will be able to negotiate a better deal for you. Before you sign an agreement, it is essential that you have your lawyer go over everything to make sure that you are getting the best possible outcome. You should never have to settle unjustly, and a good divorce lawyer will make sure that you get what is fair.

mediation - dispute resolution processRamos Law Group, PLLC Can Help

If you need a good divorce lawyer in Houston, Texas, or if you would like to learn more about mediation, contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC. We have many years of experience helping people to get what is rightfully theirs in a divorce. Mediation can be a powerful tool, but it is not always effective. Having an attorney on your side gives you the confidence to go through the proceedings, knowing that you are not overlooking critical details. Call 713-225-6200 and schedule a consultation today.

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Divorce is an emotionally draining process. Much of this is by nature, as it’s hard for people to avoid feeling pain while ending their marriage. Some emotional pain, however, can be avoided, and mediation is a good way to do this. There are many myths surrounding mediation, but the process benefits a variety of divorcing couples. Divorce lawyers in Houston are able to help with or conduct the mediation process.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a non-adversarial way to settle issues in a divorce through compromise. During the mediation process, the spouses are separated and the mediator goes back and forth between the spouses gathering information and relaying positions. The mediator is only authorized to tell the other spouse what the first spouse allows, but they have the benefit of hearing both sides of the divorce and can guide the spouses towards common ground. Hopefully, the process ends with an agreement on the major issues of the divorce.

Many divorce lawyers in Houston are certified to perform mediation. Judges will often order mediation as part of the divorce proceedings.

Mediation Myths

1. Mediation is inconvenient.

Mediation takes less time than litigating and is often less costly as well. For any divorce lawyer in Houston, preparing for custody, property and other divorce hearings entails many billable hours of work. By using mediation, the clients save this time and ultimately reduce the costs of divorce. Also, where divorce litigation may take longer to prepare and drag on for weeks, it’s possible to conclude all the issues in a divorce in a four-hour mediation session.

2. Mediation makes one side powerless.

Mediators are trained to recognize power imbalances and can call out one side or stop the session if one party is trying to dominate the other. Additionally, the mediators are only authorized to disclose what each side allows, and each spouse has complete control over what they offer to the other spouse. The spouses are usually not even in the same room, so there is less chance of feeling intimidated.

3. Lawyers aren’t involved in mediation.

Many divorce lawyers in Houston are mediators themselves or you should always have your lawyer with you during the mediation process. It’s in each party’s interest to have an attorney review the settlement and explain to them the rights and privileges they’re getting and giving up in the agreement.

4. Every Divorce Can Benefit From Mediation

Many divorces can benefit from mediation, but the process is not fail-safe. If there was abuse or criminal behavior in the marriage, then the abused spouse may not want to participate in mediation because they have little to compromise. Additionally, if one party wants the marriage to drag out, they can use the mediation process to try to coerce the other party to remain married or delay the final divorce settlement. People can speak with their divorce lawyer in Houston for advice on whether the process would be beneficial to their situation.

How to Decide if Mediation is Right for You

Like other issues in a divorce, mediation is a personal decision (unless the spouses are ordered to try mediation by the judge). If you suspect that your spouse is not committed to divorce or know they are abusive, you can try to forego mediation or quickly end the process. Otherwise, it’s something to consider as a way to find a beneficial resolution to a divorce. Mediations often speed the resolution of a divorce.

Our Ramos Law firm divorce lawyers in Houston are happy to assist our clients with mediation or answer any questions concerning the process. Contact our office for more information or to speak with an attorney.

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Quick Overview

  1. Prove up MSA (Mediated Settlement Agreement) in front of Judge
  2. Schedule an entry date for the final order
  3. Drafting Final Documents
  4. Enter signed final order and supporting documents with the court
  5. Post-Divorce Checklist  (Not optional)

Process After Mediation

In Texas, many cases are settled during mediation.  A mediation agreement is a binding agreement signed by all parties and their attorneys that resolves all of the issues in case.  Once an agreement is reached, the most difficult part of the case is over, but there are still several steps that need to be taken to finalize the agreement.

First, the mediator files the agreement with the court. In most cases, the agreement is filed within twenty-four hours.  In many courts, especially in cases involving child custody, one party must “prove up” the mediated settlement agreement in front of the judge. This means that one party appears before the judge and briefly explains that the parties have reached an agreement and what that agreement contains. The judge will then examine the agreement to ensure that it comports with Texas law and in most cases approve the agreement. Following the “prove up”, the attorney will request an entry. An entry date can also be requested in instances where a “prove up” is not required.  An entry date is a date by which the final decree or order must be signed by all parties and submitted to the court.

Once an entry date is set, one of the attorneys begins drafting the decree or order. Generally, mediated settlement agreements are only a few pages long. They contain all of the agreements of the parties, but not the legal language necessary for a final decree. For example a mediated settlement agreement may state simply that the parties agree to a standard possession order, the final draft will then need to specify over several pages the exact terms of visitation in standard possession order. One attorney must to draft a longer document with the appropriate language. Once the draft is completed, all parties and their attorneys have an opportunity to review the document prior to entry. Sometimes, one party does not agree to the final language. If there is a dispute regarding drafting, in most cases the parties will return to the mediator, who will then act as arbitrator, and make a final decision regarding which language best reflects the agreement of the parties as written in the mediated settlement agreement. If the parties still disagree then the judge will hear the parties’ arguments on the entry date and make a final determination regarding the decree or order.

The final decree order or order is not the only document submitted to the court. Several supporting documents must also be filed. In most cases involving minor children child support withholding orders and medical support orders are generally required. Personal information sheets must be filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. In cases involving property division, special warranty deeds, which transfer interests in real property, titles, and qualified domestic relations orders, which are used to divide retirement accounts, must be filed as well.  In addition to filing documents regarding the division of property and payment of support, depending on the terms of the agreement, the actual exchanges of property and payment must be made. Often the entry date is used a deadline for the exchange of property or money, however, parties may agree to other dates of exchange as well.

After the judge signs the final order or decree the lawsuit is complete.  However, if this is a divorce, then you still have many outstanding issues left to address.  Please use the linked post-divorce checklist to help sort through any outstanding matters.

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Mediation is very popular as a method for settling divorce cases rather than going to trial and it has many proponents. But why should you attempt mediation rather than go forward at trial?

  1. Some courts require mediation
  2. Mediation is so successful that many family law courts make mediation a requisite before parties may proceed at trial. So while you may believe your case needs to go before a judge at trial, chances are good that you will be required to mediate your case at some point during the divorce process.

  3. You retain control over the outcome
  4. Should you go to trial, the end result is entirely in the hands of one person sitting on the bench or twelve people sitting in the jury box. These are people that don’t know you, don’t know the facts and must make a judgment call about the lives of two strangers based on what is presented in possibly a two hour trial. Mediation is a collaborative process where both parties come to an agreement about all the issues, whether it’s property division or child custody issues. Mediation is about compromise

  5. Less costly than litigation
  6. Litigation is very costly. You’re going to have to take off work; you’re going to incur attorney’s fees for the court appearance itself as well as for prepping for your trial and your trial may last for days. Mediation can finalize all issues in one day.

  7. Privacy concerns
  8. Divorce proceedings, including the record of testimony presented during the trial, are public record. That means that every bit of dirty laundry aired about you or your spouse during trial is available for public consumption. What is said in mediation is confidential; only the parties, their attorneys and the mediator will know what was said.

  9. Timetable
  10. Courts are burdened with huge case loads and judges can only hear so many cases a day. You may be scheduled for trial on a certain date but there is no guarantee you will actually be heard that day. Mediation allows for all the parties to agree on a date that fits their schedule and is not dictated by a busy court’s schedule.

For the reasons stated above, mediation is an invaluable tool in a divorce and parties should be open-minded to the process. If you are going through a divorce or are interested in learning more about the mediation process, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

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