Mediation is a required step in nearly every family law matter, and for good reason. Most family law cases are resolved through mediation and dispute resolution efforts, rather than at a final trial. The evidence is clear—when parties take the time to meaningfully negotiate, they are more likely to be able to avoid the additional delay and significant expense of litigation in reaching a final resolution.
If you are unfamiliar with what the mediation process is, you can read our earlier blog about that here.
Because mediation is required, some parties see attending mediation as, “checking a box.” Even when I have represented parties who see the mediation process this way, we have usually been able to reach resolution at the mediation—either for some limited issues that help the case move forward, or for the entire matter.
To get the most out of your family law mediation, preparation is key!
Many family law cases require that you have a Budget prepared for trial, so take time to make sure yours is updated and correct. A budget is relevant to the issues of child support, post-divorce maintenance, and the overall division of your marital estate. Here is an example of the information your budget should include. If you are working with an experienced family law attorney, your budget should be something you work on with your attorney early in your representation.
Gather your year-to-date income documentation and last year’s income documentation and have it available at mediation. If you are working with an attorney, then you likely will have already exchanged this information with the other side because it is required under our Rules.
If you are mediating a divorce case, you will be dealing with the division of your marital property, so you should prepare a Property Spreadsheet. An example Property Spreadsheet can be found here.
Dividing property is complicated, and not all property can or should be divided in your Texas divorce case, which is why it is so important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can evaluate your marital assets and liabilities and identify your separate property.
Access to Information
There is often quite a bit of information you will be expected to obtain quickly during your mediation, such as current balances for financial accounts; availability of health or dental insurance plans; cost of insurance plans; premium information; correct owner for utility accounts; balance of escrow account; etc.
Be sure to bring a personal device (laptop or web-enabled cell phone) to be able to look up the information to exchange with the other side.
In the days leading up to your family law mediation, take time to evaluate your goals for the mediation and understand why you are taking those positions. Knowing your goals will help you and your mediator better navigate the offers being exchanged. While it is usually not the case that someone gets everything they wanted at mediation, it is easier to come close when you have taken the time to truly understand your position.
If you are working with an experienced family law attorney, make sure you have a meeting with your attorney to prepare for mediation and go over these goals.
As I discussed in my earlier blog about the mediation process generally, mediations often last a full day, and it will be a long day of hard work. Plan ahead so that any distractions or obligations you have at home or at work are handled for that day. Be sure to have some physical activity and breakfast in the morning before mediation so that your mind and body will be able to be engaged for the long day ahead and have water and healthy snacks available to keep you fueled. Have an open mind to the process and the opportunities that will unfold throughout the day.
Consult with an experienced family law attorney regarding your divorce or custody matter and how mediation may be helpful to you. If you are desiring representation by one of our experienced family law attorneys, you may call 512-477-1600 during normal business hours, or submit an inquiry here.