Resolving custody and other divorce issues through mediation

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, over 79,000 divorces were reported in 2006 and those divorces included 62,408 children under the age of 18. Deciding to end a marriage in Collin County is never an easy process and it can be made more difficult if children are involved.

However, rather than hashing out their personal feelings in a courtroom, many couples and the legal community are embracing the use of mediation. Mediation can, in many cases be more productive when working out child custody, property division and financial support issues. Therefore, it is a good idea for couples to look at how mediation works, the role of a good mediator and the benefits that mediation can provide.

How mediation works

When a couple agrees to use mediation, they essentially meet with a neutral third party and discuss their issues in a calm and serene environment. Mediation takes place generally in several sessions with each session dedicated to a specific issue such as child custody, co-parenting and child support. Spouses may bring their attorneys with them, if they wish, to provide them with legal advice as mediators are not allowed to provide legal counsel.

The role of a mediator

According to the American Bar Association, the role of a mediator is to ensure that both sides are equally presented. A good mediator will meet with each person separately to understand what the person wants and then use that information to help guide the discussions. This, in turn results in an alternative dispute resolution agreement that is customized to each person's needs.

When choosing a mediator, people should look for someone who has attended at least 60 hours of mediation training, according to the Huffington Post. It is also a good idea to look for someone who has experience with the law or in the mental health field and understands Texas laws relating to family law issues.

Benefits of mediation

People that choose to use mediation instead of a judge often enjoy several benefits. These benefits include:

  • Empowerment - In a courtroom, couples must abide by what a judge orders while mediation gives them the power to create their own plan.
  • Less expensive - Mediation is often much cheaper than taking legal issues to a judge.
  • Sets example for children - Parents who resolve their issues through mediation are teaching children how to solve conflicts.
  • Mediation provides children continued relationships with both parents since often parents agree on a joint custody agreement.
  • Mediation can help parents put their personal feelings aside and focus on what is really important - their children's well-being.

While mediation can be of great value to couples, it is not a guarantee for everyone. There may be situations involving domestic violence, substance abuse, or other situations where children and a spouse could be exposed to harmful environments. If you are going through a divorce you should discuss your situation with an experienced attorney to determine whether mediation is the right choice for you.