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What is Mediation?

Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a process in which a neutral third party—a mediator or arbitrator—helps parties who are embroiled in a dispute come to an agreement. Mediation falls under the broad ADR umbrella and involves one or more structured meetings between disputing parties, chaired by a neutral third person whose purpose is to help them negotiate and hopefully resolve a contentious problem. Too often individuals engaged in a dispute are quick to hire an attorney and file a costly lawsuit. Mediation could be an alternative that would help resolve your dispute. It can be used in various areas of the law and most often results in a better outcome for both parties. The advantages of mediation are: in comparison to litigation the process, it more expeditions, inexpensive, allows the parties to resolve their dispute in quickly, allows the parties to participate in the process rather than be a “by-stander”, the rules of the process are relatively simple and can be established by the parties and can be modified if necessary.

Of course each case will vary, but one clear advantage over traditional litigation is in the area of divorce. The end of a marriage typically unleashes a flood of emotions including anger, grief, anxiety and fear. Sometimes these feelings can rise up when you least expect them, catching you off guard. Such a response is normal, and over time the intensity of these feelings will subside. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Researchers have found that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.[1] Whether you are a young couple with no children and little to no assets, or an older couple with minor children, real property and retirement accounts to fight over, the law is going to determine how your assets are divided and map out a visitation schedule for your children. Often, when a marriage is dissolving, the fight over the material things (and your children) has more to do with hurt feelings and betrayal. One or both parties often make the mistake of immediately hiring a divorce attorney in order to get the “upper hand.” If you’re interested in an equitable distribution of your assets and fair visitation schedule, divorcing couples don't have to only rely on the help of a divorce attorney, there is an alternative. Consider hiring a mediator or a lawyer who will help you work with your spouse to achieve an amicable divorce for far less than traditional litigation. In Texas, most divorce actions take between 3 and 12 months from filing to resolution. The amount of time the process takes will depend on how the parties to the action conduct themselves. The mediation process allows the parties to be creative in finding solutions for their particular circumstances. Research your options and consider hiring a mediator!

[1]Sbarra, D. A., Smith, H. L., and Matthias, R. M. (2012). When leaving your ex, love yourself: Observational ratings of self-compassion predict the course of emotional recovery following marital separation. Psychological Science,23(3): 261-269.

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