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Mediation and domestic violence in a Texas divorce

There may come a time in a Texas divorce where the court sends the parties to mediation. For many couples, mediation is a less stressful and less costly alternative to litigation. It is supposed to be a safe process for couples to hash out their differences and come to an agreement regarding a variety of divorce issues. However, what does Texas state law have to say about mediation when one of the parties involved is the victim of domestic violence?

In Texas, if each spouse agrees to it in writing, a judge can send a divorce case to mediation. Through this process, a mediated divorce agreement can be made binding. This is true if the written settlement document prominently states that the agreement cannot be revoked, and carries the signatures of each spouse along with those of any attorneys present.

However, a spouse can object to the mediation process if they are the victim of domestic violence at the hands of the other spouse. The objection must be made in writing prior to the point in time in which the final order for mediation is made. Once a party files an objection, the divorce cannot be sent to mediation unless a hearing is requested by the other spouse. At this hearing, the divorce can only be sent to mediation if the judge determines that, via a preponderance of the evidence, the objection is unfounded.

If the divorce is still sent to mediation, the court will make efforts to ensure that the spouse who objected to mediation is kept safe, both emotionally and physically. It can be ordered that each spouse need not meet face-to-face, and they can each have their own room while mediation is occurring.

Mediation when a spouse is a victim of domestic violence is a delicate topic. While sometimes mediation in these circumstances works out, other times each party is better served by divorce litigation. In the end, each party's safety should be the paramount concern.

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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.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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