Baby boomers in Texas explore mediation and collaborative divorce
A recent study released by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University found that although the overall rate of divorce in the country continues to fall, divorce rates among baby boomers are on the rise. In fact, separations for those over the age of 50 recently doubled.
In addition to starting a trend called “grey divorce,” boomers are also exploring alternative ways to finalize their divorces. Instead of following the more traditional courtroom divorce process boomers are considering mediation and collaborative divorce as options.
Although divorce still requires filing a lawsuit, it does not have to result in family court litigation. Instead, a couple could choose to finalize their divorce through mediation.
Mediation is a process that uses a mediator, or impartial third party, to facilitate the development of a divorce agreement. A mediator does not determine who is right or wrong, but instead focuses on aiding the parties in producing an agreement that works best for their situation.
Collaborative law is another option for couples who are looking to finalize a divorce without entering the courtroom. It begins with a written agreement between both parties outlining a commitment to resolve the divorce and any related issues in a constructive manner. Related issues can include property distribution, support payments and custody determinations.
This form of law focuses on open discussions but differs from mediation by not using a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion. Instead, the collaborative law process is completed with only the spouses and their attorneys. Additional professionals can be included to assist in assessing valuations or other technical issues as needed.
Applying these alternative forms in Texas
Both the collaborative law process and mediation process can result in lower costs and a timelier finalization of the divorce. These alternatives can also be beneficial if the parties will need to have a continued relationship after the divorce is finalized, such as a parenting relationship if small children are present. However, neither process works well if the parties are uncomfortable candidly discussing various aspects of their marriage in a cooperative manner.
Texas state law recognizes both mediation and collaborative law as alternatives to litigation. In order to pursue either of these options, the couple generally provides written agreement to the court. After receiving this agreement, the court then refers the suit to whichever process was chosen by the couple. Determining which option is best for your situation can be difficult. As a result, it is wise to contact an experienced Texas family law mediation attorney or collaborative law attorney if you are considering or have recently filed for a divorce to discuss if either form of alternative divorce resolution works well in your situation.