Divorce Mediation in Texas
Mediation, a concept unheard of in Texas as recently as 15 years ago, has been successfully introduced to our state and is resolving even the most difficult cases.
This brief overview will hopefully help you to better understand the process and put you in a better position to mediate your case.
II. TYPES OF MEDIATION
There are, in the United States, two types of mediation. The “roundtable” method of mediation involves the parties and their attorneys sitting at a table with the mediator and openly discussing and finding solutions to their problems.
The “caucus” method of mediation involves the parties and their attorneys starting to settle in one room with the mediator to generally discuss the facts of their case. The mediator then splits the parties into two different rooms (with their attorneys) and walks back and forth between the rooms to assist them in finding a reasonable “middle ground” for the resolution of their case.
Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam prefer the “roundtable” method of mediation.
One state in the entire country prefers the “caucus” method of mediation.
Texas, of course, is the one state that prefers to “caucus”.
Believe it or not, caucusing is a very successful means of mediating cases. It is highly likely that if you attempt to mediate your case, you will be successful in finding that middle ground that is necessary to resolve your issues. Parties seem to agree that deciding between themselves in mediation is a better means of resolving their problems than allowing the judge to make that decision for them.
III. QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDIATION
Below are some of the more popular questions that are received from clients on a regular basis about mediation:
Question: How long does a mediation last?
Answer: A mediation can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Realistically, mediations last (at least in San Antonio) from a half-day to a full day, generally starting at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. (or even later).
Question: What happens if we successfully settle our case? Do we sign the divorce papers then?
Answer: If you successfully settle your case in mediation, you will sign what is known as a “Mediated Settlement Agreement”. This document is a silver bullet – very effective and extremely difficult to get out of once it is signed by the parties. If you or your spouse changes your mind the next day, it will be very, very, difficulty to back out of the agreement, so be sure of your decision before you sign it. (With the exception of fraud, it is very difficult to revoke a mediated settlement agreement.)
Question: How can I be sure that my spouse will show up for the mediation?
Answer: If necessary, an “Order for Mediation” can be prepared by the attorneys and signed by the judge compelling each spouse to be present for mediation and to stay in mediation until released by the mediator.
Question: How much does a mediation cost?
Answer: Mediators generally charge anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars (the “normal” fees in San Antonio are $1,500.00 to $1,800.00 per day.) Each party is generally required to pay 50% of that fee you should tender your 50% of the mediation fee to the mediator at the beginning of the mediation.
Question: Can I mediate without my attorney?
Answer: It is very ill advised to try to do so, as you will have no idea what is “fair” and the norm as far as the settling of your case.
Mediation is a phenomenal process to allow you to attempt to settle your differences without having a judge settle them for you.
The dynamic of having a third party (not your lawyer or your spouse’s lawyer) present makes mediation an ideal vehicle for the possible resolution of your case. I would strongly urge that you consider mediation as a means of resolving your family law dispute.
DATED: May 1, 2004
Charles E. Hardy
Attorney at Law
12000 Huebner Road, Suite 200
San Antonio, Texas 78230-1204