Bad Blood: Family Law Cases Can Bring out the Worst in People, But Mediation Can Help

By: E.A. Putman

Taylor Swift. Noted for being the person interrupted by Kanye West during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. But, famous to most as the clever lyricist who turns breakups and burns into Grammy-winning songs. Recently, I completed a full day mediation that resulted in an agreement. The client was able to resolve the case and it was a relief because it is difficult to observe seemingly kindhearted people get mistreated. Welcome to Family Law. I am the Taylor Swift of Family Law. Instead of writing songs, I turn my experiences into blog posts and this one is dedicated to mediation.

Bad Blood. Family law can be messy, painful, and very expensive. On top of that, a person (the judge) who knows nothing about you or your situation (except for what comes out in court) will make a decision regarding some very important details of your life–your children, your finances, and, to an extent, your liberty.

“Family law can be messy, painful, and very expensive.”

No one desires to end up in the jurisdiction of Texas Family Court, but certain things will guarantee an exploration and determination of your personal life–the legal dissolution of the marital relationship, the resolution of child custody and placing someone (or yourself) on child support. While television has portrayed family court trials in a dramatic light (and it is sometimes), most cases settle informally or through the mediation process. Mediation is the alternative to conflict and the best option for those who want to have as much control as possible in the outcome of their case.

We Are Never Getting Back Together. In 2019, there were an estimated 4,713,325 living in Harris County, Texas and 16.8 percent or 791, 838 people were divorced. The reasons for divorce are complicated, but one thing is common is that folks probably want to depart as peaceably as possible. Mediation provides divorcing spouses and separating parents the opportunity to shape their future by investing their time and energy in resolving these issues without the necessity of litigation. Did I say litigation was expensive? Because it is. It can be costly, time consuming and emotionally draining. There is a saying: criminal attorneys see bad people at their best and family lawyers see good people at their worst. And there’s a few things that may bring out the worst in people: their money, their children.

Look What You Made Me Do. Is child support a point of contention after separating? The Texas Attorney General Child Support Division’s mantra is “to make sure every child receives the support they need and deserve.” It is with this motto (and federal money), that they establish and enforce child support orders for separating(-ed) parents. However, the AG’s don’t delve into every individual case to determine circumstances surrounding the financial support. There is a formula, a number, a chart and an obligation. In court, there are presumptions and guidelines. Through the mediation process, the parties may explore the options of deviating up or down from the guidelines or even coming to additional support agreements for childcare, education and other expenses.

You Belong With Me. Whoever stated that family law is when good people are at their worst possibly specialized in high conflict custody cases. Many cases involve two decent people who really believe that the children are best suited to primarily live with them. No harm, no foul. The worst cases involve manipulation, coaching the children to lie and engaging in parental alienation. But, even those cases can be and have been resolved through mediation. You want “50/50 custody”? That’s not in the Texas Family Code and it’s not what you will get if you go to trial. You can get it through mediation.

You Need to Calm Down. A family law case inevitably heightens emotions and breeds resentment. Parties often feel helpless because they find that many things are out of their control. A mediator may help ease this tension, encourage communication and consequently, assist you in gaining back some of your control. Here’s five reasons why mediation helps…

  1. You cannot select your judge. You can select your mediator.
  2. You cannot have a frank conversation with the judge about the other party. I mean. You can, but it will be on the record and it will be judged accordingly. You can tell the mediator the good, the bad and the ugly (and you can choose whether or not they relay that to the other party). They are there to assist you to coming to a middle ground.
  3. You cannot be shielded from the death stares of a former partner in court. You can (and definitely will) be in the next room and never have to cross paths with the other party during mediation.
  4. You cannot always get an immediate decision from a judge. You can get the decision right away from the mediator because it is the party’s decision.
  5. You cannot control the outcome of your case in court. You are in control of the outcome during mediation.

The Putman Firm, PLLC is a family law litigation firm that handles a wide array of family matters including criminal matters that intersect family law, i.e. family violence assault cases, protective orders (criminal and civil) and allegations of child abuse. If you or someone you know are seeking legal assistance for a family law case,  contact The Putman Firm, PLLC at (281) 501-9033. You can also schedule a consultation by visiting Your Family Law Attorney.

Disclaimer: I admit it. I watched the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix.

Mediation is the alternative to conflict and the best option for those who want to have as much control as possible in the outcome of their case.

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