This article provides an overview of mediation as a tool in resolving a divorce in Texas.
Can I use mediation for my divorce?
Yes. If both parties agree in writing, or the court, the court may refer a divorce case to mediation. Texas Family Code 6.602(a).
At what point in the divorce or custody process do we have to go to mediation? Do we have to file suit first?
You can go to mediation before or after you officially file your petition for divorce. The court may order you to go to mediation once you have filed, or you and your spouse may decide to attend mediation prior to your divorce decree is ordered. If you decide to attend mediation once your case has started, you, or your lawyer, will need to let the judge know of your decision.
Do both parties have to abide by the mediated settlement in a divorce?
A mediated settlement for a divorce is binding if both parties agree that it will be binding. The agreement must: 1) state, in bold type face, capital letters, or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation 2) be signed by both parties 3) be signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the parties signed the agreement.
Texas Family Code 6.602(b).
What if the court orders mediation for my divorce and I do not want to go?
You must go through mediation if the judge orders it. A party can object to a mediation is if there has been family violence committed against the objecting party. The objecting party must object prior to the final mediation order and file a written objection to the referral of mediation.
Texas Family Code 6.602(d).
I am afraid of my ex—do I have to go to mediation?
If there has been a proven history of family violence or you fear for your safety, you may not be required to attend mediation.
If you have been ordered to mediation, you will want to file a written objection to mediation on the basis of family violence, at any time prior to the final mediation. Once an objection is filed, the suit cannot be referred to mediation, unless the opposing party requests a hearing to oppose your objection. If a hearing is held and there is not enough evidence to support your claim of family violence, mediation will be held.
However, the court will take appropriate measures to ensure your safety. For example, the mediation may be held in separate rooms where you do not have to have face-to-face contact with them.