Mediation is a way to resolve conflicts without going to trial.
Don’t spend your child’s college money fighting in court.
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Especially if your family law conflict involves children, you can consider the benefits of mediation as an alternative to traditional courtroom litigation.
During a mediation session, a neutral third-party (the mediator) guides the participants through a communication process to develop a solution that all of the participants find agreeable and in their best interests.
Not only can mediation save you time and money, it can save you from becoming so stressed and emotionally drained by court battles that you have very little of yourself leftover to give your children.
I have great respect for the court system, but litigation harms children when it pits their parents against one another. Ongoing parental conflict hurts children; therefore, resolving conflict as quickly and thoroughly as possible is the #1 best reason to explore mediation for your case.
Litigating a family law case should be a last resort, not your first option, in my opinion.
Benefits of Mediation: A Smart Solution
Summed Up by the 5 S’s:
- SWIFT: Saves a significant amount of money, time, and stress when compared to litigation
- SURE: Avoids the uncertainty of a court case — If you go to trial, the court may or may not rule in your favor. If you mediate, the parties can control the outcome. Both parties can leave with a satisfactory result.
- SILENT: Keeps your “dirty laundry” out of a public courtroom
- SPECIALIZED: Allows you to customize an agreement that fits your family, instead of the standard “one-size-fits-all” templates in the Family Code. Research shows that when parents create their own agreement, they are more likely to follow it.
- SOLID: Lays the foundation for a new and constructive relationship with your child’s other parent* instead of the confusion, anger, and frustration that can happen in the court system
*The co-parenting relationship may not be important to you. After all, you divorced/are divorcing that person. But it is important to your child/children.
- Courts recognize the value of mediation – Most counties require the parties to mediate before a final hearing unless a good reason not to mediate exists.
- Mediation is collaborative. It avoids the confrontational nature of the courtroom. Parties can make their own decisions in a relaxed setting that often leads to better and more innovative solutions.
Most participants will bring their lawyer to the mediation. Although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer and in my role as mediator, I cannot give you any legal advice.
What occurs during mediation?
During a mediation session, all participants will have the opportunity to talk about the dispute with a neutral party (me, the mediator) in a non-adversarial setting –my office.
Coffee, soft drinks, and refreshments are available and we strive for an amicable atmosphere. During the mediation, your lawyer can help with legal knowledge, but typically the parties will speak for themselves. In this way, creative solutions can be brought up. Practical ideas and personal feelings can be shared that litigation might discourage.
Confidentiality of the mediation is ensured by Texas law, specifically chapter 154 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
The mediator’s role is to remain neutral and help you come to a solution that you both agree upon. A mediator does not decide who is “right” and who is “wrong.” Instead, as your mediator, I will assist the parties to explore the options for resolving the dispute while focusing on the best interest of the child/children. I will facilitate communication, help you define the issues, and prioritize what is important to you. I will ask questions and clarify what has been stated, but I will not make a determination about how to resolve the dispute.
Sometimes I will meet with the parties together in the same room and sometimes separately in separate rooms called a “caucus.” When I am not meeting with you, you will be provided a comfortable space equipped with Wi-Fi access and plenty of snacks.
All of your communication with me is confidential and I will only share with the other party what you have authorized me to share. If you reach an agreement with the other party, I will write it down and make sure if says what the parties want it to say. All parties will sign the agreement and receive a copy to take home.
Mediations are conducted at my office in Round Rock Texas. The office address is 2851 Joe Dimaggio Blvd., Suite 24, Round Rock Texas 78665. See map. We have a spacious meeting room with windows, A/V equipment, and whiteboards; two smaller break-out rooms; a comfortable waiting area/lobby; and a break room equipped with coffee makers, a refrigerator, and a microwave oven. There is plenty of free parking close to the building. If it is more convenient for the parties, I can conduct the mediation at one of the attorney’s offices (by agreement) or at a neutral location in Georgetown or north, central, or south Austin.
Talking to Your Child’s Other Parent About Mediating
Naturally, you will ask for your lawyer’s input and I cannot give you legal advice, but one way to open the conversation is simply to ask your child’s other parent to review the benefits of mediation listed on this website. Express to her or him that it is important to you that the decisions impacting your family are made by the two of you, and not a judge. Talk with your lawyer and encourage your co-parent to talk with their lawyer. Start looking at your calendar and identifying some dates that will work for you, and then have one of the attorneys or their staff member coordinate among the participants and schedule the mediation. You can view Joan’s calendar of available dates here.
When to Mediate
This is a decision your lawyer can help you with and I cannot give you legal advice. Mediation can work at any time. However, the big mistake I have seen some co-parents make is waiting until right before trial to consider mediating, or waiting to be ordered by the court to mediate like commonly happens in Texas. In many instances, you can gain the most value and achieve the most satisfaction if you look into mediating sooner rather than later.
Length of a Mediation Session
Mediation appointments are booked for half-day (4 hours) or full-day (8 hours) sessions. I also offer mini-mediations (2 hours) that are suitable for less complex matters. Lunch is included for full-day mediations at no additional charge. How much time you will need to mediate depends on the complexity of your case and how willing the parties are to communicate productively. In order for you to receive the most value and satisfaction, I encourage the parties to continue mediating until a settlement has occurred or a true impasse has been reached. This means that in some cases the mediation may continue past the scheduled time. For this reason, I recommend not setting additional appointments immediately following the mediation in case you and the other party agree to extend your time. .
After you book your mediation session, I will send you an intake packet that asks you for information so I can understand the nature of your dispute. On the day of the mediation, you will have an opportunity to describe the dispute from your perspective and state the outcome you would like to achieve. Each party will have the same opportunity, and the petitioner typically begins.
You can start thinking about how you would describe the dispute, what is most important to you, and what result you would like to see happen.
Decisions that you reach during mediation are binding and enforceable.
If I accept your case, I will be acting as your mediator. I will not be acting as your attorney and I will not be giving you legal advice.