When a couple enters mediation, an impartial third party works with both spouses to promote reconciliation and help negotiate a possible settlement. Successful mediation typically ends with a couple entering into a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) that is legally binding. Mediation is much different from arbitration, in which the third party essentially acts as a judge and makes decisions on certain issues. In Texas, a mediator is prohibited from imposing his or her own judgment on the issues for that of the parties.
If you are considering mediation for your divorce in Harris County, it is still in your best interest to retain legal counsel. Our divorce lawyers in Houston can make sure that all of your rights are protected in any proposed MSA. You can have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Harris County Mediation Information Center
Types of Issues Resolved in Mediation in Texas
Some of the common kinds of divorce issues that may be resolved in mediation include:
- Division of Property;
- Spousal Maintenance/Alimony;
- Divorce Decree Modifications;
- Child Custody;
- Child Support; and
- Parental Relocation.
Not all cases may be appropriate for mediation. For example, any case in which a lawsuit has been filed would be inappropriate for mediation unless a judge specifically orders mediation.
Mediation Laws in Texas
Under Texas Family Code § 6.602(a), the court can refer a suit for dissolution of a marriage to mediation upon the written agreement of the parties or on the court’s own motion. Texas Family Code § 6.602(b) further states that an MSA is binding on the parties when the agreement:
- provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldfaced type or capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation;
- is signed by each party to the agreement; and
- is signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement is signed.
Either party can file a written objection to the referral of a suit for dissolution of a marriage to mediation at any time prior to the final mediation order under Texas Family Code § 6.602(d) on the basis of family violence having been committed against the objecting party by the other party.
The court cannot refer the suit to mediation unless, on the request of the other party, a hearing is held and the court finds that a preponderance of the evidence does not support the objection. When a suit is referred to mediation, the court must order appropriate measures be taken to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the party who filed the objection—including that the parties not be required to have face-to-face contact and that the parties be placed in separate rooms during mediation.
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 154.073(b), any record made at an alternative dispute resolution procedure is confidential, and the participants or the third party facilitating the procedure cannot be required to testify in any proceedings relating to or arising out of the matter in dispute or be subject to the process requiring disclosure of confidential information or data relating to or arising out of the matter in dispute.
Texas Mediation Resources
Dispute Resolution Center — The Dispute Resolution Center is sponsored by the Houston Bar Association and funded through the Harris County Courts System. Services are free to residents of Harris County. Use this website to request mediation services, although the service is only available to parties with a court pleading or disputed dollar amount of $100,000 or less.
Contact a Mediation Lawyer in Houston, TX
Are you considering mediation for your divorce in Southeast Texas? You will still want to contact The Gonzalez Law Group to make sure that you are entering into an agreement that accomplishes all of your goals. Our Houston divorce attorneys represent individuals in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown, and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or complete an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.