Mediation: The Art of Communication 

Litigation in general, and specifically resolution of family law and contested probate issues, can often be acrimonious and, at the very least, stressful. One way to alleviate some of the stress is for parties to participate in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, such as mediation.

General Mediation: An Overview

According to Texas law, mediation is a process “in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.” At Tate Moerer & King, we encourage our clients to participate in mediation whenever it seems like a reasonable option. Some of the specific ways the process works includes:

  • The parties to the lawsuit meet with the mediator who is a neutral third party.
  • Mediators do not give legal advice nor do they make recommendations for resolution.
  • Mediators guide the parties into identifying the issues in dispute and help the parties identify areas in which they have a common ground.
  • Mediators encourage joint problem-solving and help the parties explore settlement alternatives without going to trial.
  • Experts, for example, CPAs, child psychologists and others, who can give valuable information to the opposing parties, may be called in to a mediation session to give advice.

The process is totally confidential. If mediation breaks down, with only a few exceptions, the mediator cannot be called as a witness at a later trial.

Family Law Mediation

Family law mediation helps the parting couple resolve divorce issues in the most amicable way possible. Family law courts encourage parents to put together their own parenting plan resolving custody and visitation issues. Texas refers to custody as “conservatorship.” Some family courts also require mediation before hearing any part of a case involving conservatorship.

Through mediation, parents are often able to decide between them what arrangements are in the best interest of their children. Courts find that parents are more likely to abide by arrangements to which they themselves have agreed. If there are no children, mediation is still an effective method to facilitate property division of a marital estate.

Parties can attend mediation and decide the outcome of their case prior to even filing for divorce or conservatorship. Parties also do not need an attorney at mediation, although many parties choose to be represented by an attorney at mediation.

As mediators, we at TMK assist in the mediation process in order to facilitate their ability to agree between themselves on the best possible outcome for each case. We work to facilitate agreements between parties in an amicable way, with both sides walking away comfortable with their agreement.