To avoid a dramatic and sometimes lengthy battle in divorce court, Clint Lawson recommends alternative dispute resolution whenever appropriate.
Two types of resolution that have proved successful in recent years are mediation and collaborative law. Both strategies involve the husband and wife—not a judge—making the decisions that are specific to their situation. Each spouse is assisted by their respective attorney. Approximately 95% of divorce cases in Texas are settled by agreement.
Most courts require mediation prior to trial, unless the case can be settled without mediation. Mediation is usually a half-day or full-day proceeding that takes place on a prearranged day at the office of either the mediator, or the attorney for one of the parties.
Mediation facilitates the settlement of claims between the parties. In divorce cases, that includes division of property plus provisions regarding custody, visitation and support of the children. Each party, along with their attorney, communicates through a neutral, third-party mediator. The process is confidential. The mediator cannot decide the case or force a settlement.
During mediation, the spouses are in separate rooms, with their attorney. The mediator opens communication between the parties and brings them to settlement. While the mediator cannot force either party to sign an agreement nor impose orders upon either party, they often bring a new perspective to the discussion that allows the parties to view things differently, which can often promote a settlement of outstanding issues. If an agreement is reached, the parties will sign a mediated settlement agreement that will be filed with the Court. Once signed, the agreement is binding on both parties.
If the parties do not reach an agreement during mediation, it does not necessarily mean that a settlement is impossible. The parties can continue to negotiate. If an agreement is not reached, the parties may then continue to trial.
Clint Lawson is certified as a mediator, being both experienced and skilled at reaching favorable settlements.
Collaborative law is similar to mediation in that it leaves the decision making up to the individual parties, not the court. However, unlike mediation, during the collaborative law process, all parties are together in one room for open and "transparent" discussion. The collaborative team often consists of the spouses, their attorneys, and mutually agreed-upon neutral representatives from the financial and real estate sectors who help the parties with, respectively, an agreeable division of assets/debts and real property. Many times a therapist will also be invited to join the team, to help couples deal with the emotions experienced during most divorces, and also to allow the attorneys more focus on legal issues.
Other conditions that reflect the civility of the collaborative law process are 1) the parties must sign an agreement not to take their case to court for a designated period of time; and 2) the collaborative law attorney is not allowed to represent his/her client in divorce court. This safeguard eliminates any self-serving interests, and reaching an agreeable settlement is the primary focus.
If you are interested in a divorce, Attorney Clint Lawson can help. Contact Clint today at 210-244-2701.