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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Using alternative dispute resolution in a divorce

Texas residents who are seeking a divorce may be interested in some alternatives to litigation for resolving their disputes. While the court usually has the final word, the parties may be able to take their situation in their own hands to get a more fair outcome.

When the parties agree to an alternative dispute resolution procedure, such as arbitration or mediation, a court will generally refer the couple to that procedure and support the outcome. In the case of arbitration, which allows an arbitrator chosen by the parties to decide on their divorce issues rather than a judge, the court may first determine if the agreement to binding arbitration is valid. If so, the court can write an order reflecting the outcome of the arbitration with the same force as a decision by the court itself.

With mediation, there are two options. If the parties had agreed beforehand to attempt to settle their divorce through mediation, the court may allow them to do so. If the mediation yields a settlement that has an express provision against revocation and is signed by both the parties and their attorneys, that settlement will be binding on the parties. Alternatively, a court may refer the parties to an informal settlement conference, if they feel it is appropriate. If this settlement conference produces an agreement signed by the parties and intended to be binding, the court will then give it the force of law.

Understanding the various procedures that are involved in a divorce can be difficult. An attorney with experience in family law may be helpful to a client in negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement covering such issues as property division and spousal support.

Source: Texas constitution and statutes , "CHAPTER 6. SUIT FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE", January 06, 2015

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