Mediation is one of the methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to parties. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party (the “mediator”). Unlike arbitration, which is a process of ADR somewhat similar to trial, mediation does not involve decision making by the neutral third party. Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision.
Mediation has become very common in trying to resolve family issues (divorce, child custody, visitation), and may be ordered by the judge in such cases. In the Victoria area, it is not mandatory but in some counties or other areas of Texas, mediation is mandatory before the court will set a final contested matter. Mediation has become more frequent in contract and civil damage cases. Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. The part most people do not know is that it is a confidential process where the terms of discussion are not disclosed to any party outside the mediation hearing. Most mediators have an 80%-90% success rate for settlement of cases that they mediate.
Texas has no state mandated requirements for mediator certification or licensing. Court appointed mediators are generally expected to meet the requirements of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 154.052, but the Code allows the court to waive the requirements at its discretion.
The Texas ADR Act states that to qualify to be appointed as an impartial mediator in a court case one must have at least 40 hours of classroom training in ADR, with an additional 24 hours family training required for anyone appointed in a case having to do with the parent-child relationship. A court may waive these requirements at its discretion.
Mediation gives the parties much more control over settlement and negotiation of their respective positions. This is the biggest benefit, however, other benefits are also extremely valuable. The dispute is kept much more confidential than in open court, the relationship between the parties may be significantly less damaged through mediation than through testimony in open court, and there is more certainty regarding the case settling versus going to court and having to reschedule due to the number of cases on the docket that day or other circumstances beyond the attorney or client’s control.
Kliem & Balusek has a trained and experienced attorney who can mediate your case. If you feel your case may be settled through mediation, have your attorney contact us at Kliem & Balusek, Attorneys at Law to discuss mediation. We can help you understand your rights and the process for mediation. Remember Kliem & Balusek“ Not just a law firm. A relationship.”