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Mediation can be a time and money saver in Texas divorces

Among the decisions Texas spouses make when a marriage ends is how to divorce. Legal options have expanded beyond traditional divorce to include collaborative law and mediation.

Family law judges do not want to make choices for divorcing couples. Judges prefer spouses to sort out their differences before coming to court. Of course, if spouses were harmonious, they would probably not divorce or need a judge to step in on property division or child support matters.

Many spouses want to avoid the prolonged effort, time, stress and costs that accompany divorce. Couples also want to make certain that sensitive issues like child custody, asset division and support are resolved fairly.

A traditional divorce frequently takes longer than a mediated one. The involvement of attorneys and judges is higher in standard proceedings than mediated divorces.

In a conventional divorce, spouses retain separate legal counsel. One or both partners file dissolution of marriage petitions and petition responses. Time passes as lawyers enter temporary motions. Hearings, conferences and discussions are scheduled.

Court requirements may include the assignment of a mediator to work with spouses. At the same time, spouses could be ordered to complete co-parenting classes.

Unresolved matters can push a divorce to trial and appeal. Each extra step equals additional time and costs.

Couples who choose alternate mediation hire a certified, impartial third-party to help negotiate a settlement. The goal is a mutually satisfactory divorce agreement.

When all goes well, spouses compromise on the issues that they otherwise would dispute before a judge. A successful mediation includes a final settlement draft and all the necessary support documents before a judge-ready divorce petition is entered. Spouses retain control over how quickly the divorce action takes place.

If mediation is so beneficial, why do some couples still use traditional divorce? Texas divorce attorneys know that spouses often have strong opposing ideas for which a judge's ruling may provide the only satisfactory solution.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Maintaining An Active Tempo In Your Divorce," Diane L. Danois, April 1, 2013

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