Mediation

Mediation is an informal settlement option that is available and appropriate in most divorce cases.  Mediation is highly encouraged in all Texas Courts as a necessary intermediate step before a final hearing can be held in a divorce case, especially one with complex custody and/or property issues.  Mediation is where both parties meet, usually at the mediator's office, usually in separate rooms, to try to reach an agreement on some or all issues in their case.  This saves the costs and stress of a big final contested hearing, where the outcome is unknown.  A good mediator is usually one who is also an attorney in the divorce/family law area, or also sit as a judge in primarily civil cases.  Mediators range in price from $200 to over $2,000 per party for an all-day mediation.  The average price for mediators in the Austin area for an excellent mediator is between $500 to $800 per party for an all day mediation.  Preparation is key for mediation, so be sure to coordinate your agenda with your attorney before you attend mediation.  Make sure to define your bottom range for any "deal" in mediation so you know when a mediation is not being productive and you are getting away from your goals in your case.  
A good mediator will listen to your concerns and goals for your case, discuss probable options, and meet with each party independently to work through each party's goals and concerns.  A good mediator can take a very contested case and work with the parties to find a creative solution to their case that works with the specific needs of each party.  A good mediator can save both sides major litigation costs as well as the physical and emotional toll of a contested final hearing.  I always recommend mediation and include my attendance at mediation as a no-cost addition to all my divorces cases.  To all parties trying to find the "out" in a divorce/custody case that has spun out of control with fees and emotions, I highly recommend discussing the mediation option with your attorney.