Houston Attorneys Practicing Alternative Settlement Methods
Helping You Explore Alternatives to Divorce Court
Divorces can be messy, stressful, and exhausting, even in the most ideal of scenarios. Going to family court to resolve a divorce can often make a difficult situation even worse. The reality is that you and your ex-spouse are likely to experience conflicts throughout the divorce process, but going to court to settle disputes may not be the most efficient or effective solution. You may be uncomfortable with the idea that a divorce will take months to progress or that a third party will have final say over what happens to your children and property.
If you are hoping to avoid divorce court and come to an agreement with your former partner through some other means, our Houston alternative settlement methods lawyers at Myres & Associates PLLC can help. Our founding attorney, Susan Myres, has over 30 years of experience helping Texas families navigate divorce settlements through traditional and alternative means and is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. No matter how complex your situation may seem, our team can give you the guidance you need in considering informal settlements, mediation, and arbitration.
Why Avoid Divorce Court?
If you are at the beginning stages of navigating your divorce, you may be wondering why you would theoretically want to avoid going to court. Going to divorce court can very well be the right approach to situations where two partners cannot come to any form of an agreement.
Families sometimes prefer alternatives to divorce courts due to the following factors:
- Efficiency. When you commit to divorce court, you are at the mercy of the court’s schedule, backlog, and availability. This means that your case may not be heard for many months.
- Cost. Going to court can be more expensive than alternatives, especially if the proceeding is drawn out over several weeks.
- Control. When you are outside of divorce court, you and your former partner can basically agree to almost any terms you and your legal teams devise. When you enter into divorce court, a judge can make binding decisions that you will have no control over, including who get what property as well as custody of your children.
Alternatives to divorce court can help many families reach settlements faster, at a lower cost, and with more control. We can evaluate your family’s situation and determine whether considering alternative settlement methods may make sense in your case.
After you have undergone the discovery process, many families will attempt a collaborative divorce, or an informal settlement. This is exactly what it sounds like: In lieu of going straight to court, both parties will propose their ideal settlement and see if there is any common ground or room for mutual agreement.
Because this process is informal, you may not initially need to retain an attorney. In simpler, amenable divorces, two partners may be able to come to a swift compromise and negotiate directly. Even if you do choose to hire legal representation, informal settlements are most cost effective, as your lawyer will only need to participate on a limited basis.
In your initial settlement offer, you should ask for what you want and what you believe you deserve. You should also keep in mind what your former partner will likely want and what they believe they deserve. Negotiating in good faith and with respect for your ex-spouse will tend to result in a more productive process.
If things get contentious after both sides have made their initial settlement offerings, it is probably time to hire legal representation if you have not already done so. Avoid getting into fights and have your lawyer review any statements or messages before responding. We can help you respond to settlement offers and prepare counters that are reasonable concessions to your wishes while still protecting your interests.
There is no limit to the length of an informal settlement process. It can in theory continue for as long as necessary, but many partners will eventually reach an impasse where they determine that they will be unable to come to an agreement. Should this occur, we can recommend additional alternative settlement solutions or, if necessary, discuss the possibility of going to court to resolve the outstanding conflicts.
Mediation is in many instances the logical next step if you are unable to come to a resolution in the informal settlement process. It builds on the work you previously did in negotiating an informal settlement but adds a trained mediator to the process.
Most mediations will involve placing you and your legal representation in one room while positioning your former partner and their legal representation in another room. The mediator, agreed to by both parties, will travel between the rooms to discuss settlements, counters, points of contention, and possible means of resolution. This is done to protect both parties’ safety: Tensions run extremely high as settlements are negotiated, and keeping the groups separate protects everyone’s well-being while avoiding unnecessary fights from resurfacing.
The mediator hired to run your session will be trained at conflict resolution and can potentially help identify ways you can reach a mutually agreeable settlement. They will listen to both sides of every facet of the case and try to help each party understand the other’s feelings and motivations. Our Houston alternative settlement methods attorneys can assist in tracking proposed changes negotiated in mediation and provide recommendations on what and what not to accept.
Should mediation prove successful, both parties will sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement that locks in the terms discussed in the session. If you still cannot reach a settlement, we can help you explore whether pursuing arbitration or going to court makes the most sense for efficiently resolving your case.
Reaching a divorce settlement through arbitration operates similarly in practice to a trial but with less formality and a greater degree of control. Families may prefer to rely on arbitration if they will instead need to wait months for a court date or wish to have some influence over who will decide the outstanding conflicts.
You and your partner will together determine who will arbitrate your case. Your respective legal teams can help advise on this decision and can cooperate to make recommendations, if necessary. The arbitration itself is similar to a trial: You and your legal team will together present facts of the case and arguments in favor of your preferred outcome. The arbitrator will then make a final, binding decision that both parties must abide by.
Helpfully, you do not need to subject your entire settlement to arbitration if you do not need or want to. If you were able to informally settle other elements of your case – say, who gets what property – but still need to settle other matters, like who gets custody, you can exclusively seek arbitration for those elements.
Explore Your Options Today
Our Houston alternative settlement methods lawyers at Myres & Associates PLLC are committed to helping you explore every possible means of efficiently settling your divorce. We are compassionate to the difficulties every family faces as they move through the divorce process and can help identify cost effective solutions that can help you avoid the bulk of the more time- and resource-intensive court process.
Support Network of Experienced Professionals
We work with a national and international network to help provide industry-leading support during and after your case, ranging from forensic accountants to specialized counseling coaches.
Collaborative, Team-Based Approach
When you work with any of our attorneys, you get the experience, knowledge, and support of our entire team. We're all by your side.
Experienced In & Out of the Courtroom
We will do our best to achieve an amicable settlement out of court. If additional litigation is needed, we are right there ready to go.
Fully Invested in Your Case
We care about the outcome and well-being of your family as much as you do. We will do everything to protect your best interests.