Houston Mediation Lawyer

Mediation came on both the family law and civil law scenes some 15 years ago in Texas. There are different methodologies used in mediation around the state and around the country. Mediations can be for either temporary orders or for final orders. In Houston for instance, the parties are generally kept in separate caucus (conference) rooms with their attorney and a third party neutral (mediator) goes back and forth between the conference rooms to attempt to get agreement on issues related to children and to property. The mediation may be for all temporary orders, partial temporary orders, or all final orders depending on how the parties negotiate. Mediations are generally either ½ day or full day depending on the issues and how difficult the parties are going to be to negotiate. The information disclosed in either side of the mediation is confidential and cannot be used at trial. The mediator cannot be subpoenaed to testify at trial either.

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How Does Mediation Work?

The reasons for use of mediation in family law matters are generally 2 fold. First, the parties are going to likely have to interact with each other for some time after a divorce or modification in which children are involved. Mediation has a tendency to begin to heal the communication problems that will be of benefit to the children down the road. Additionally, mediations have been found to be a very successful means of resolving controversies which reduce the cases the court must hear/reduces their docket load.

In some counties, the parties are in the same room during the mediation and the mediator attempts to do live negotiations while the parties are in the same room. If the emotions get too high, a change to the separate caucus room can be made.

At the end of a mediation, there is either a full settlement, a partial settlement, or an impasse. If there is a settlement, a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is drafted which is drafted, signed and binding on the parties. There may also be a partial MSA. In any event, the court will likely make that agreement the order of the court and "negotiator's remorse" will not work. If the mediation reaches an impasses, the court is simply informed that was the result of the mediation.

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