Few couples seeking divorce in the greater Houston area realize that their divorces will most likely never get to the courtroom. Instead, most will participate in one or more formal or informal mediation sessions during their divorce process. This is primarily due to the fact that Houston family courts are backed up with cases and now require divorcing couples to try mediation in order to settle their divorce before it is allowed to proceed to court. Consequently, the majority of divorcing couples in Houston ultimately settle their divorces in mediation.
This reality presents divorcing couples with a number of options they may not realize they have. For one, they can start their divorce process with mediation, as opposed to hiring a divorce attorney first. They also have the option of meeting first with a certified divorce financial analyst to work out the financial issues of the divorce, then hiring an attorney to develop and file the correct divorce paperwork. Divorcing couples may also decide to create a team of several experts they determine to be necessary in their process which may include a neutral divorce financial analyst, one attorney per spouse, and possibly a therapist or other expert.
As a certified divorce financial analyst, couples can benefit from my cooperative approach to preparing for divorce as well as my skills as a trained mediator. They work out the financial aspects of their divorce and get the benefit of my mediation skills to overcome obstacles or disagreements. It typically speeds the process, saves them money and the stress of a drawn out divorce process with lots of moving parts.
Each option above has advantages and disadvantages depending on the unique needs of each divorcing couple. Couples or individuals contemplating divorce should fully explore the pros and cons of each approach to determine the best course for them. For example, if a couple believes that for the most part they expect to be on the same page, they may want to look into Cooperative Divorce (Early Mediation) as a place to start. This team approach as described above offers the advantage of saving the time, money and stress of a prolonged divorce process. Yet, if one of the spouses feels disadvantaged, abused or bullied by the other, or there is not a basis of trust between the two, there may be good reasons to go a different route.
Divorce in the Houston area will likely involve mediation at some point, so preparing for mediation is a good idea. In my next blog post, I will discuss what to expect and how to effectively prepare for mediation in the divorce process.