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What are the guidelines for a Texas divorce mediator's conduct?

The state of Texas gives divorcing couples options for how they want to resolve the end of their marriage. Former couples may opt for traditional litigation, or they may conclude that mediation is a more appropriate option. If spouses decide that divorce mediation is the best route for them, they may have questions regarding how their mediator is supposed to act during the process or how the mediator's unique approach benefits the outcome.

First, it is helpful to know that Texas divorce mediators are accountable to several different parties. They are responsible to the spouses they are serving, of course, but also to the courts. Several different organizations, including the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, have issued ethical guidelines meant to illustrate the importance of proper mediator conduct. Those considering divorce mediation may find these guidelines helpful in demonstrating the benefits of mediation.

Since a mediator's role is to be impartial, a mediator cannot ethically favor one party over the other or proceed off of biased assumptions -- for instance, assuming the mother is more likely to want child custody than a father. Since mediation also encourages both parties to reach a voluntary settlement, the mediator cannot coerce either party into agreeing with a certain decision. Mediators may offer informative suggestions based on fairness, legality, equity and the best interests of the children.

Another important guideline for mediators is keeping matters confidential. Unlike a courtroom divorce, a mediation session does not take place in front of others. Only the spouses and mediators are present. Thus, mediators have a responsibility to keep information confidential and cannot use that information for personal gain.

Finally, mediators are discouraged from actively soliciting specific cases. The decision to pursue mediation can be a very personal one and mediation may not be the best option for every divorcing couple. Still, the distinct benefits of mediation, such as the frequently-lower costs and potentially lower emotional stress, are likely to be compelling for many types of spouses and families. An experienced Houston mediator can answer any questions about conduct during mediation and help spouses sort-out their divorce issues in a fair and timely manner.

Source: TXmca.org, "Mediation benchbook," accessed on Nov. 15, 2014

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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