Informal settlement conferences are a form of alternative dispute resolution for couples going through a divorce in Texas. This helps you reach an agreement on different aspects of the termination of your marriage outside of the courtroom. It offers several benefits to you and your family, and you can still work with a trusted lawyer at every step of the legal process.
What Are the Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods?
Informal settlement conferences and other alternative dispute resolution options can help you save time and money as you limit your time in court. You can also schedule with more ease, which can be convenient when you have many responsibilities.
You and your spouse also get the added benefit of negotiating in private with only appearing before a judge for a final hearing in many cases.
Alternative dispute resolution can also minimize the stress of a divorce and creates the foundation for healthy and respectful co-parenting. Engaging in collaborative negotiations with your spouse can help your minor children navigate this challenging life transition.
What Matters Can an Informal Settlement Conference Address?
This alternative dispute resolution method allows you to negotiate all aspects of your divorce such as:
- Marital property division
- Spousal support
- Child physical and legal custody
- Child support
- Any other aspect of your parenting plan
When it comes to matters concerning minor children, a judge always carefully reviews your proposed agreement to ensure that it focuses on your child’s best interests.
Will My Lawyer Be Present During the Informal Settlement Conference?
Under Texas Family Code § 6.604, you and your spouse have the option to have your lawyer attend the sessions. However, this is not a requirement and depends on your circumstances and preferences.
Can We Have Multiple Informal Settlement Conferences?
Yes. Both spouses may agree to schedule multiple informal settlement conferences to ensure they have adequate time to address all issues concerning the dissolution of their marriage. Depending on your situation, you may want to plan for multiple sessions from the start, so you do not feel rushed and have ample time to work through disagreements and reach a mutually beneficial solution.
Is an Informal Settlement Conference Legally Binding?
It can be legally binding if you provide a written settlement agreement that features:
- A prominently displayed mention that your agreement is not subject to revocation
- Both spouses’ signatures
- The signature(s) of either or both parties’ attorneys if they were present at the time the spouses signed the agreement
If a couple chooses to establish and sign a written settlement agreement that meets all those criteria, they can submit it to a judge for review. If a judge approves all provisions of the agreement, they can finalize the divorce and issue all relevant court orders.
In the event that a court is not satisfied with one or more elements in the proposed agreement, they can request the parties to address those issues and submit a revised agreement. In certain circumstances, the divorce process may involve a contested hearing if the judge finds some of the agreement’s terms unfair to one of the parties.
Trust Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. as Your Alternative Dispute Resolution Lawyer
Hiring a compassionate and reputable divorce attorney plays a central role in the legal process. Attorney Tracy has extensive experience in divorce and family law, including child support, and is here to accompany you at every step of the legal process. From your initial consultation to the final decree of your divorce, we can address any questions or concerns you may have.
If you are unsure which alternative dispute resolution option fits your situation, attorney Tracy can recommend an informal settlement conference, mediation, or arbitration, depending on your specific needs and goals. Our priority is advocating for your rights and interests. Our team is here to help you create a positive future for you and your loved ones after divorce.
Are you interested in an informal settlement conference or another alternative dispute resolution approach for your divorce in Houston? Contact Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. today at (281) 612-5443 to schedule an appointment!