San Antonio Mediation-Arbitration Lawyers
Alternative dispute resolution is an increasingly common form of addressing issues relating to divorce outside of a public court setting. Some couples rely on mediation, while others choose arbitration. There may also be those who decide to use the process of mediation and arbitration combined into a single process known as “Med-Arb.”
Med-Arb can be extremely beneficial for some couples who are headed to divorce. It allows them to first enter mediation to try and reach cooperative, non-adversarial compromises before turning to arbitration to decide any outstanding issues. While Med-Arb is considered a potentially less costly way and less emotionally draining to handle divorce proceedings, there are several essential concerns that should be addressed before you agree to enter the process.
If you are considering Med-Arb in the greater San Antonio area, it is crucial you are receiving counsel from an experienced and compassionate family law attorney before you make any final decisions.
All of the partners at our firm are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We can explore all of your legal options when you call (210) 349-9933 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation.
Do I Need A Med-Arb Lawyer?
You are not required to have an attorney for your Med-Arb proceeding, but you are certainly going to benefit when you do retain legal counsel. The first thing a lawyer can do is to establish key ground rules relating to the process to make sure sure that you will be able to resolve most or all of the most critical issues.
Another key component of your Med-Arb case will be the selection of a neutral third party or parties as your mediator and/or arbitrator.
An arbitrator functions as a collaborator with the couple to preferably reach consensus and a settlement on issues relating to the end of a marriage. An arbitrator, on the other hand, is a decision-maker that imposes binding rulings much as a judge would do in court. Some couples select the same person, i.e., a med-arbiter, to act in both roles, if necessary, as to minimize costs.
Retaining the same person to serve as both the mediator and arbitrator carries certain risks, namely when information is exchanged confidentially to the med-arbiter. Many valid concerns can arise when one party is not able to rebut allegations made in private to a med-arbiter, but you can be certain that your private exchanges always keep your best interest in mind when you have an attorney.
A skilled family law practitioner can outline the process that is to be followed in your Med-Arb case to avoid any unexpected surprises. They can also advise about whether you have grounds for appealing an arbitration award.
Why Choose Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. To Handle My Case?
Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. was named one of the best law firms in the nation by U.S. World News & World Report in 2015. In addition to our board certification in family law, all of our partners have been peer-recommended for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers. Our firm comprised of qualified San Antonio alternative dispute resolution attorneys was built on the principles of hard work, attention to detail, and outstanding client service.
With 35 years of experience, founding partner Charles E. Hardy who has been named among the Best of Family Lawyers for eight years in Scene in SA Magazine and was also named a Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly Magazine every year between 2006 and 2015. He is a member of the TexasAcademy of Family Law Specialists, Texas Family Law Foundation, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and State Bar of Texas.
Harold C. Zuflacht is a fellow in the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. He is also a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists and a lifetime member of the Texas Family Law Foundation.
The other four attorneys at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. also have similar outstanding credentials. Our legal team can provide you with a mediator or arbitrator who can resolve the points of contention in a divorce rather than leaving it in the hands of a judge.
Types of Med-Arb Cases We Handle
The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) is the primary law favoring private dispute resolution through arbitration. The Texas General Arbitration Act (TAA), is similar to the FAA but has specific differences in procedure. Moreover, alternative dispute resolution is authorized through Title 7 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. An alternative dispute resolution attorney can explain the differences in these statutes and how they might impact your Med-Arb process.
Med-Arb can be beneficial to couples who want to keep their marriage dissolution private and seek quicker resolutions to their issues. The parties involved will be able to decide whether they want the decisions in their case to be binding or non-binding, i.e., mediation only.
Among the benefits of binding arbitration is its finality with no loose ends that can lead to a long and dehumanizing court struggle. Other benefits include efficiency; Med-Arb allows couples to save time and minimize legal fees as well as achieve flexibility because both parties will be able to customize the process to the nature of their dispute.
What is the Med-Arb process?
The Med-Arb process usually begins with both parties creating and signing an agreement about the way forward. The agreement outlines the steps to be taken and usually confirms that any unresolved issues after mediation will go to arbitration. If the same person is acting as both the mediator and arbitrator, the process or processes may take place in a matter of hours on a single day.
When the mediator and arbitrator are different persons, the process could occur over several days or even weeks. Some couples may be able to arrange to have both the entire Med-Arb process wrapped up on the same day, although that may be unrealistic if further factfinding is required.
In most cases, mediation occurs first, with the couple trying to achieve mutually beneficial solutions to their issues under the guidance of the mediator. All outstanding matters, i.e., those upon which the couple has reached an impasse, are then decided through arbitration. Certain proceedings may be more like Arb-Med in that serious issues are arbitrated first before the couple engages in mediation.
What Rules Apply to Med-Arb?
The rules for Med-Arb are much more relaxed than a traditional courtroom. With reason and subject to applicable law, the couple may be able to determine their own rules for the Med-Arb process.
Can I force my spouse to enter Med-Arb?
No, you cannot compel your spouse to enter Med-Arb. While arbitration can be required in some cases, mediation is always voluntary. The goal in mediation is to get both parties to work together to achieve a resolution; forcing one party to participate against their will goes against this concept.
Contact a Med-Arb Attorney in San Antonio
Are you thinking about possibly using Med-Arb for your divorce in San Antonio or elsewhere in Texas? If so, turn to a legal team that knows how to implement these options.
Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable possible resolution to your divorce, and our team has extensive experience with mediation and arbitration. Call (210) 349-9933 or contact us online for a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and your legal options today.