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Why Mediation May Be a Good Option in a Custody Dispute

Why Mediation May Be a Good Option in a Custody Dispute

In a divorce, one of the most difficult, and often painful, parts of the process is the determination of custody. As a parent, you want regular and meaningful access to your children, but you also want what’s best for them in the long run. With the emotions that accompany a divorce, it can be difficult to view such issues objectively. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can ask the court to determine the arrangement. However, that can be messy, and can often cause more harm than good. There is another option—mediation. Contact a Baytown family law attorney for assistance.

How Mediation Works

Mediation can offer a “win-win” approach to the resolution of custody issues. In mediation, you work with a third party neutral, someone who does not represent either one of you, but it tasked with helping you identify and implement a mutually beneficial solution. The mediator will listen to your stories and then work directly with both of you, seeking to identify exactly what you need, and ways that you can compromise to get what you need.

mediation

The mediator won’t make decisions for you. In fact, the mediator doesn’t take testimony from witnesses, doesn’t consider physical evidence, doesn’t make any rulings of law and won’t decide who’s right and who’s wrong. You will always have the right to reject a proposal by your ex, and you’ll always have the ability to suggest or propose an alternative. You’ll be actively involved in the final resolution of the issues, rather than waiting for a judge or jury to make a ruling based on evidence and legal arguments.

There are other benefits to mediation as well. Because you don’t have to go through the discovery phase of a trial, where you take depositions and gather evidence, mediation typically takes far less time, and usually involves a lot less expense.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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The Benefits of Mediation in a Family Law Dispute

The Benefits of Mediation in a Family Law Dispute

When your marriage is in trouble or has ended, one of the last things you often want is more conflict. You may simply be weary of the disagreements, or it may be important to maintain a positive relationship with your ex, so that your minor children don’t feel like they are caught in the middle. There’s an alternative to the traditional divorce process—mediation. It can be used to amicably resolve any dispute you may have. The benefits of mediation in a family law dispute can be discussed with our Baytown family law attorney.

It’s Designed to Be a “Win-Win” Situation

In mediation, you work with a third party neutral. That person doesn’t represent either one of you and is tasked only with helping the two of you come to a mutually acceptable and beneficial resolution of any differences. The mediator doesn’t take testimony from witnesses, doesn’t rule on the admissibility of evidence, and doesn’t issue any rulings. The mediator will, however, encourage both of you to consider the costs of litigation, so that you look at ways to compromise and get what you really need.

In mediation, the only outcome is the one you work out with your ex. You are always free to reject any proposal by your former spouse, and can always make your own counter-proposal. You’ll never put your outcome in the hands of a judge or jury.

Benefits of Mediation

It’s Usually Less Expensive

Because mediation doesn’t involve rulings on admissibility of evidence, or determinations of legal issues, mediation typically takes far less time. Your family law attorney won’t need to engage in lengthy discovery, conducting depositions or reviewing documents. There’s no need for motions or other proceedings. In addition, most mediators are available within a short period of time, and most mediation can be completed in a day or two.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Can I Represent Myself in a Divorce Proceeding?

Representing Yourself in a Divorce Proceeding

There’s an old adage that says that a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. With the extensive material available to walk you through a divorce proceeding, and with access to the Internet, is this still true?

You Can Represent Yourself

Texas law does not prohibit you from acting pro se (on behalf of yourself). Before you decide to act as your own attorney, though, it’s really important to understand the risks.

  • Will you be taken advantage of by your ex-spouse or by opposing counsel? If there is little at stake — no children, no property, no likelihood of alimony — there is likely little risk and representing yourself may pose no problems. However, if there is any complexity to your case, you will be at a distinct disadvantage if your ex-spouse has an experienced attorney. You may find yourself participating in hearings or conversations in which you have little or no understanding of what is being discussed.
  • Do you have the time to properly prepare? A divorce can be a time-consuming matter. If you work full time and have children, you may find it difficult to find time to prepare. You may need to review documents, research case law, prepare pleadings and attend hearings.
  • Do you fully understand all your options? Do you know about mediation or negotiated settlements? Are you comfortable negotiating with an experienced lawyer?

What You Will Have to Do

The divorce process is fairly complex, with a very specific timeline. First, you will need to prepare certain documents. If you are seeking the divorce, you will have to prepare and file a divorce complaint (known as a petition) with the court. If you are being sued for divorce, you have the right to file an answer to the petition. Your petition will tell the court who you are and what you want the court to do. You must also provide formal notice to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce.

Once you file the petition, the court will issue “standing orders,” essentially ground rules for while your divorce is in process. If there are contested matters, the court may designate a specific period of time for “discovery,” when the parties prepare and exchange information to help determine the outcome. Once you have come to agreement on all issues, you must put your agreements in writing and have the court issue an order documenting the terms of your divorce.

Questions About Represent yourself in a Divorce Proceeding? Custody, Divorce, and Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to parents involved in relocation issues, child support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about how to stop your ex from moving away with your child, or other custody, divorce, or family law matters, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

I’ve Inherited Money During Our Marriage. Do I Have to Split that If I Divorce?

You will not have to split money that is inherited with anyone except Uncle Sam. That is the case whether or not you divorce. The money you inherit is yours. It is not considered marital property.

If, however, you have signed that money over to your spouse, or placed that money in a joint bank account, the money then becomes marital property. So, it is wise to keep inherited money separate if you are anticipating a divorce.

The inheritance and any gift given to you alone for that matter, is yours and yours alone. Community property is everything that a husband and a wife own together. Community property would include such objects and assets and earnings that were acquired during the marriage. These would include a business and a house, regardless of who purchased it and whose name it is in. This would also include al debts that are contracted during the marriage.

Separate property includes inheritances and gifts received during the marriage, anything that was owned by one spouse before the marriage began, and anything either spouse had earned after the couple separated.

Divorce, Property and Inheritance Division Questions? Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to individuals involved in support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about keeping an inheritance that you were given during your marriage, property division, divorce, or any other family law matter, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

The Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation in Texas: Part 2

This article is the second in a two-part series describing some of the major advantages and disadvantages of using Texas divorce mediation instead of direct negotiation or litigation to resolve the conflicts in your divorce. The first article focused on the advantages of divorce mediation. This article covers some of the disadvantages, including circumstances when divorce mediation is not appropriate.

Some Disadvantages of Divorce Mediation

  • Divorce mediation can waste your time and your money—if it doesn’t work, you have to spend more time and more money going to court to resolve the issues.
  • Divorce mediation is not appropriate in marriages with any history of abuse. Mediation can only be effective when the power balance between the spouses is equal. If you are suffering in a physically or emotionally abusive marriage, the Texas Council on Family Violence has resources to help.
  • Divorce mediation relies on voluntary disclosure of all facts relevant to resolving issues like spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody. If, for example, your wife has a hidden bank account, the mediator cannot force her to reveal it. By contrast, a divorce court judge can sanction a party to a divorce proceeding who fails to disclose all relevant information.
  • Inexperienced mediators can create unfair, unenforceable, or incomplete divorce agreements. The market is flooded with divorce mediators, many of whom are well-qualified, conscientious professionals. However, as in any profession, you need to choose carefully to protect yourself from the harm that an untrained or unethical mediator could cause to your divorce.
  • The mediator cannot give you legal advice, even if the mediator is a licensed attorney. While mediating your divorce, the mediator must separate his or her role as a divorce lawyer from his or her job as a mediator. However, if you choose divorce mediation, nothing prevents you from hiring a divorce attorney to guide and advise you as you go through the divorce mediation process.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. We work closely with several highly trained divorce mediators in and around Baytown, and can serve as your legal counsel if you choose divorce mediation. For an initial assessment and consultation to determine whether divorce mediation is right for you, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

The Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation in Texas: Part 1

We want to keep it ‘friendly.’”
We can’t afford to spend a lot of money fighting about the terms.
It doesn’t seem right for a judge to decide.

If you’ve expressed any of those sentiments about your divorce, then divorce mediation may be the preferable alternative to resolve any disputes about your divorce and get the papers signed with minimal conflict. That said, divorce mediation is not the right choice for every divorce—and it will save you headaches and financial resources in the long run if you carefully consider the pros and cons of divorce mediation before making a decision.

This article summarizes some of the advantages of divorce mediation. In a following article, we will discuss the major disadvantages of divorce mediation.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

In divorce mediation, the spouses choose a professional mediator to meet with them—both separately and together—to help resolve any disagreements about the terms of the divorce. The mediator is neutral, meaning that he or she does not represent either spouse’s viewpoint. Instead, the mediator’s job is to use his or her training and experience to help the spouses find acceptable compromises to their disagreements. The mediator’s suggestions are not binding.

It is important to know that many Texas counties require or strongly encourage mediation in some divorce cases, such as when the spouses cannot agree on child custody and visitation arrangements.

The Advantages of Divorce Mediation

  • Divorce mediation proceedings are completely confidential. If you can agree on all the terms of the divorce using mediation, then you present the divorce court judge with a stipulated divorce agreement, and there is no need to air any of your disputes—regarding children or money—in public.
  • Divorce mediation can be less expensive than an adversarial divorce case. If you have one or two specific conflicts, but agree on all other details, a mediator may be able to efficiently find a compromise after listening to each spouse’s concerns.
  • You retain more control over the terms of your divorce. If you end up in front of a divorce court judge with unresolved issues in your divorce, the divorce court judge will make the decisions for you, period, end of story. With divorce mediation, you keep more control over all of the issues in your divorce, including division of property and arrangements for the children.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in child custody and visitation cases for 8 years. We work closely with several highly trained divorce mediators in and around Baytown, and can serve as your legal counsel if you choose divorce mediation. For an initial assessment and consultation to determine whether divorce mediation is right for you, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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