When going through any type of litigation in Texas, mediation can be a very successful and efficient tool to bring a lawsuit to a close. During the course of family law litigation, most courts in Texas order parties to attend mediation prior to having a final trial.

Mediator, Karen Stewart posted an interesting article entitled “Divorce Mediation and What to Expect” on the Blogs on Divorce website. It states that more and more people are choosing mediation as a means to resolve issues when going through a divorce.

Mediations play by Vegas rules; what happens in mediation, stays at mediation. This means that any offers that are communicated during mediation are inadmissible at any future hearings.

Any agreements that are entered into during mediation are reduced to writing in the form of a mediated settlement agreement. The parties and their respective attorneys execute the mediated settlement agreement. That mediated settlement agreement becomes a contractually binding agreement that cannot be changed absent a showing of fraud, coercion or duress in the procurement of the mediated settlement agreement or that the mediated settlement agreement is not in the child’s best interest.

The best way to settle any type of family law litigation is to be prepared going into the mediation process. When in a divorce, bring the most recent financial statements of any bank account, retirement account, stocks, as well as any documents evidencing debt. Blue book values on automobiles, boats and other vehicles are valuable as well. When children are involved, it is important to bring personal calendars that chronicle the children’s activities and any relevant events that have occurred during or immediately prior to the litigation.

Just like in anything in life, preparation is the key to success. A prepared litigant will more than likely have a successful mediation.
 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.