We have all heard horror stories about how a divorce can turn into a nasty, difficult, and emotionally draining fight. The good news is that divorce does not have to be that way. Indeed, the vast majority of people want an amicable divorce. Mediation is one of the best legal options for divorcing couples looking to limit the conflict (and their costs.)
That is not to say that divorce mediation is always easy. Impasses can and do occur—but a disagreement in mediation does not mean that the process has to fall apart. There are strategies that you can use to overcome impasses in divorce mediation. Here, our Houston divorce mediation lawyer offers six practical tips for overcoming an impasse in the divorce mediation process in Texas.
Mediation is a Non-Adversarial form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
As a starting point, it is useful to understand how divorce mediation works in Texas. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) designed to be non-adversarial—thereby helping to spare divorcing couples much of the time, conflict, stress, and cost of litigation.
Under Texas law (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154.023), mediation is “a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.” Notably, mediation is non-binding. The mediator’s role is to facilitate resolution. The mediator does not have the power to impose their judgment or to make any final decisions.
Six Actionable Tips to Help You Overcome Impasses in Divorce Mediation
- Try to Prevent the Impasse Before it Starts
The first tip to overcoming divorce mediation impasses is to be proactive. When you can’t prevent disagreements in the mediation process from blowing up into serious disputes, it is a lot easier to overcome them. Be sensitive. When you enter the divorce mediation process, understand that some level of disagreement is likely to arise.
- Take a Breath: Separate
With a divorce mediation impasse, the worst case scenario is that parties get so heated and so frustrated that they are no longer able to work together. As a general rule, it is a good time to separate and take a breath when the emotions start to rise.
- Put the Issue Aside for the Time Being
Divorce mediation is flexible. While all issues will eventually need to be resolved, you can go in whatever order suits your case best. It is usually a good strategy to set impasses aside and work on resolving some easier problems. By notching some wins, you will be in a better position to come back to the more difficult issues.
- Highlight the Progress that has Been Made
In some cases, divorcing couples will get focused on a difficult but relatively narrow issue. When this happens, it is usually a good time for the mediator and the parties to take a step back and to highlight all of the progress that has been made. When progress is seen, it can often put the sides in the right mindset to work through the more challenging matters.
- Clarify the Practical Implications of the Dispute
A divorce mediation should be future-focused. You need to solve material issues related to key things such as property division, alimony, and/or child custody. Your divorce mediation is generally not the right place to assign blame or to “re-litigate” every personal conflict related to your relationship. When an impasse is reached, make sure you clarify the practical implications of the dispute. If it is not about the future, it is generally best to leave it be.
- Consider Retaining an Issue-Specific Expert
Finally, you may want to consider consulting with an issue-specific expert. As an example, imagine that you have reached an impasse with your spouse about how to handle business interests in a divorce. It is both a complex and highly important issue. It may be worth consulting with a neutral, independent financial expert to help move the matter forward.
Get Help From a Divorce Mediation Attorney in Southeast Texas
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Houston divorce mediation lawyers are committed to helping clients find the amicable solution that works best for their situation. If you need help preparing for divorce mediation, we are here as a resource. Reach out to us by phone at 713-225-6200 or send us a direct message for a completely confidential case evaluation. With law offices in Houston, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land, we provide divorce mediation services all over Southeast Texas.
Last Updated on February 15, 2023 by Ramos Law Group, PLLC