Although both Texas divorce mediators and family court judges may be involved with the finalization of these difficult cases, the manner by which these individuals resolve these cases is quite different. During mediation, a Texas divorce mediator will help the parties negotiate the terms of an agreement. After a divorce trial, a family court judge will issue a final divorce order.
The mediator’s role is neutral. The mediator does not make any decisions on any issue for the parties. Each party is free to accept or reject any settlement proposal suggested by the other party or by the mediator. Therefore, if the parties settle their case at mediation, they have kept the fate of the case in their control. In contrast, a family court judge will decide each issue in the case for the parties. It is not unusual for the parties to feel frustrated or confused after hearing the judge’s order.
Mediation and family court trials are very different procedures. During mediation, the mediator interacts with the parties and thoroughly discusses the various aspects of the case with them. The parties are free to tell the mediator any information they feel relevant, and the parties may also request that certain information be kept confidential. In family court, however, evidence is presented mostly in the form of witness testimony and tangible exhibits. The parties usually only answer certain questions in court, and everything that is said becomes part of a public court record.
The mediator may also help the parties plan for disagreements that may occur in the future. For example, the parties may want to go ahead and decide how they will divide their children’s vehicle expenses or future college expenses, even though the children are only in elementary school. However, family court judges are extremely reluctant to decide issues that are speculative.