Process Choice Chart
There is a tendency for people to assume that the only way to bring a marriage to an end or to resolve post-divorce problems is to go to court and “duke it out” in the courtroom. The truth is every couple has choices of how they will resolve their legal disputes.
Below are the paths available to every couple in Texas.
Kitchen Table Approach
Direct negotiation between the parties. Should work well if the parties are at a high-functioning point in their lives and are effective at communications with each other. Usually very ineffective for the negotiation of family conflicts. Allows for the domination, manipulation, and coercion that frequently accompanies the day-to-day family disputes.
Negotiation of Terms with a Therapist
Almost a pure meditation format, except the therapist, may not be trained in mediation and may have an incorrect or inadequate understanding of the legal ramifications of agreements made. No access to legal advice and parties frequently make agreements that cannot be enforced in courts of law and/or omit issues that must be addressed.
Caucus-style mediation (parties are in separate rooms with their attorneys; mediator goes back an forth between rooms). Agreements may be obtained on all issues in a form that is enforceable. Requires three professionals – one lawyer for each party and one other professional to act as mediator. In many counties, required before the parties may have either a hearing on temporary orders or a final trial on the merits of the case.
Open communication among both parties and both lawyers while all in the same room at the same time. Allows for the parties to make agreements on all the issues that need to be addressed and ensures that such agreements are enforceable. True conflict resolution. Neutral mental health, child development, and financial professionals are often included to assist in reaching settlements.
Most public, intrusive, damaging avenue for resolution of family conflict. However, it does end the immediate dispute and sometimes it is the only way.