A divorce in Texas, or anywhere else in the United States, does not have to be unpleasant. There are ways for the couple to go through the divorce process peacefully. This is referred to as alternate dispute resolution, or ADR. There are many forms of ADR, of which arbitration is one of them.
In arbitration, a person -- an arbitrator -- is present at the ADR. In arbitration, the judge does not make the final decision, the arbitrator does. Arbitration has a distinct advantage -- family law issues are settled quickly. Resolution occurs quickly. The rulings have the stamp of finality and, therefore, nobody can appeal them.
A mini trial is another form of settling family law issues. In a mini trial, the attorneys of both sides present their cases to a third person. This neutral third person acts as the judge of the case. Thereafter, the neutral person meets the attorneys and tells them how the person will present the case. Of course, this is again on the basis of the evidence that is presented to the judge. The judge then acts as the mediator to help the parties come to an agreement.
There is also another form of ADR and that is a summary jury trial. With the summary jury trial, a summary of the family law issue is presented to the real jury. The jury does not know that this is a real trial unless it has heard the case and ruled. The parties then negotiate and come to an agreement. The ruling is often an indication of what would be the final outcome in the case.
In a private hearing with the judge, a retired judge is employed to hear the case. The advantage of hiring a private judge is that the family law issue can be heard privately and is the process generally goes smoothly.
Source: TYLA.org, "What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court," Accessed on May 1, 2015