Whether your marriage is in trouble and you are considering divorce, or your divorce is final, disputes can still arise. You can always take your differences to court, but the legal process can be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, the adversarial nature of litigation can make it difficult to maintain the type of relationship that is most beneficial to your minor children. Fortunately, there are alternative means of dispute resolution that allow you to find mutually beneficial ways to resolve your differences, ways that minimize your costs and help you foster a positive relationship. This blog post highlights two of those approaches: divorce mediation and the collaborative approach to divorce.
Divorce or Family Law Mediation
In the divorce mediation process, both parties work with a neutral third party, known as the mediator. The mediator does not take any side in the process, but focuses exclusively on helping the parties come up with mutually acceptable solutions. The mediator does not make any rulings regarding whose case has more merit and, as a result, does not consider legal arguments, take testimony from witnesses, or consider any physical evidence or testimony. Instead, the mediator helps the parties see the potential consequences of failing to resolve their differences, and encourages them to seek "win-win" outcomes.
The benefits of mediation are many. First, because mediators work outside of the courts, you don't have to go through lengthy discovery or wait to get on the court's docket. Mediation can often be scheduled within a month or two. The process itself can also be completed in a fairly short period of time, frequently through a single meeting. In most instances, the cost of the mediator is shared by the parties, so mediation can be cost-effective. Because you can reject any proposal from the other party, and can make any suggestion that might bring about a resolution, you have far more control of the outcome than you do in a courtroom proceeding, where you will either win or lose, and may not know the reason why. Most importantly, though, because mediation tends not to be adversarial, you can often resolve your differences and maintain your relationship.
The Collaborative Approach to Divorce
A new approach to divorce has evolved over the last decade, known as the "collaborative approach." In the collaborative approach, both parties are represented by counsel, but agree in advance to settle all their differences cooperatively, without the intervention of the court. Together with their attorneys, the parties seek mutually beneficial solutions. They may bring in experts, such as financial planners or mental health counselors, to address such issues as support and custody. If they reach agreement on all issues, they sign an agreement that is enforceable in court. If they cannot agree to all issues and must return to court, they must hire new counsel to represent them in any subsequent proceedings.
Contact the Law Offices of Pfister Borserine & Associates
At Pfister Borserine & Associates, we bring two decades of experience to people throughout north Texas. Attorney John Pfister is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We have the experience to know that every case is unique, and that the strategy that works for one client may not meet the needs of others. We can help you protect your rights in court, or can work with you to resolve your family law differences through alternative means, including negotiated settlements or mediation.