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Can you force mediation in Texas family law?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | Divorce |

Texas is one of the few states that does not require opposing parties to go through mediation before trial. However, that does not mean a party to a case may not compel mediation by appealing to the courts.

According to the Texas Judicial Branch, the state prefers for courts to encourage the amicable resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. If a judge does not order mediation him or herself, one party to a dispute may file a motion to compel ADR.

The goals of alternative dispute resolution

Though the state does not require mediation in divorce or child custody cases, it prefers for parties to attempt to resolve their issues on their own. Why? For a few different reasons.

First and foremost, ADR increases the likelihood that both parties to a dispute will be satisfied with the outcome and, therefore, less like to file appeals. Second, mediation and other forms of ADR even the playing field for all parties, regardless of how much money they have. Third, ADR reduces the time and expense associated with litigation. Finally, ADR helps ease the courts’ burdens by reducing the number of cases on any given docket.

The process of compelling mediation

If you wish to go through mediation before going through litigation, you must file your motion at least 15 days prior to your set court date. If the court approves the motion, the other party then has the option to file a written objection, which he or she must do within 10 days of the date on the order. The court will then review the objection. If it finds a reasonable basis to approve the objection, court will proceed as normal.

If the court denies the objection, however, you and the other party must select a qualified mediator together. Because you both will be responsible for mediation fees, you must also agree on a reasonable cost to pay for ADR services. Once you decide on a mediator, you must submit the name of the mediator to the Clerk of Court.

You must go through mediation within 45 days of notifying the Clerk of Court of your chosen mediator. However, you do have the option to request more time, so long as the change does not interfere with the court’s administrative responsibilities.

Once you complete mediation, you, the other party and the mediator have two days to deliver the results to the Clerk of Court. If you and the other party agreed to a settlement, you must inform the court of your proposed agreement within 10 days of the conclusion of the ADR process.