It is far from uncommon for many divorce cases, especially those involving issues of child custody, to be referred by judges for mediation. The mediation process does not operate like a trial, so many people enter without clear expectations of what to expect.
Put simply, mediation allows two parties to reach compromises on several issues relating to a divorce so they can work out a settlement agreement that a court can turn into a binding order. You should go into mediation with an idea of being willing to give on certain issues to facilitate agreements, but you may also have certain topics you feel strongly about and may not be able to reach agreements through mediation.
How Mediation Works
You need to understand that the neutral third party overseeing your mediation session will be a mediator, and they are not a judge. They do not render any decisions or force any settlement agreements.
A mediator only acts to try and help the two parties reach agreements on the issues they have in their divorce. Usually, one side will present a list of demands, and the other side will respond with a list of revised demands, as negotiations can continue for several rounds.
When the parties are able to reach acceptable agreements relating to important issues like child custody, child support, and other issues, then they both may sign a mediated settlement agreement that becomes legally binding. Many mediated settlement agreements may call for further rounds of mediation to address certain issues.
You should know that there is does not need to be face-to-face contact between spouses during mediation. Mediation can be set up so that each side gets their own room to work with their respective attorney and discuss the case with the mediator when they enter.
It may be possible for a finalized mediated settlement agreement to serve as the final divorce decree, and the spouses can file a motion to enter a judgment based on that agreement. A judge will only decline to finalize the divorce if they believe the settlement was illegal or the result of fraud, duress, or coercion. A settlement proposal can also be rejected if it is found to be not in a child's best interests or it becomes evident that one spouse was unduly influenced by the other–such as in domestic violence situations.
Contact a Collin County Mediation Lawyer
If you are either dealing with a court order for mediation or are considering it voluntarily, you are still going to want to be sure that you retain legal counsel. Take the time to speak to a Plano mediation attorney at Law Office of Brian Bagley who will be able to help you understand all of your options.
Attorney Brian Bagley understands the importance of reaching agreements during mediation sessions, and he will work toward the goal of moving your case forward without sacrificing any of your rights. You can call (972) 843-7158 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation so we can discuss your case in person.