When most people think about a divorce or a probate case the first thing that comes to mind is that the case will go to court. They assume that a judge or jury will hear the case and render a verdict. But in Texas, the policy is to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes, with special consideration given to disputes involving the parent-child relationship. This includes the mediation of issues involving conservatorship, possession, and child support. There are options available that can help to keep the case stay out of the courtroom.
Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between the parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them. A mediator may not impose his own judgment on the issues for that of the parties. While mediation is a method for resolving a case, the mediator cannot force the parties to agree to a mediated settlement. If the parties cannot agree the case will proceed on to be heard by a judge and resolved through a trial.
David Bouschor has long been an advocate of mediation as a source for resolving conflicts. He was one of the founders of the Denton County Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (DCAP) and has served as the program’s president for over ten years. This program uses volunteer attorney mediators to hear the details of a case and help the parties to come to a resolution.
The Collaborative Divorce process provides another an alternative resolution method to handle a divorce. Both parties retain separate lawyers whose job is to help the parties settle their disputes. At the beginning of the case the parties agree to work together to settle the case and, if it does not settle through the collaborative process, their lawyers will not continue to represent when they go to trial; the reason for this withdrawal provision, which is authorized by the Texas Family Code, is to give everyone in the case an incentive to continue to try to negotiate without the threat of court hanging over their heads during the negotiations. The Collaborative Divorce process also involves the use of third party neutrals, such as a trained communications facilitator to assist the parties in effectively communicating their interests and concerns with each other and a financial professional whose role is to help the parties understand their estate and amicably agree on the division of their assets and liabilities amicably. Learn more about collaborative divorce here.
Non-binding arbitration is a forum in which each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before an impartial third party–an arbitrator, who decides the issues in their case, also called rendering a specific award. If the parties stipulate in advance, the award is binding and is enforceable in the same manner as any contract obligation. If the parties do not stipulate in advance that the award is binding, the award is not binding and serves only as a basis for the parties’ further settlement negotiations.
Most cases can be resolved outside of the courtroom. When the parties work together to find a resolution it will save them money because of the cost of preparing for trial and the actual trial. Going to court should be viewed as an option of last resort. If you’d like to schedule a consultation and discuss options for your case, please contact us here or call us at (940) 202-8323