The role of Family Law mediator continues to grow in Texas Family Law Courts. Virtually all family courts in Harris and surrounding counties now require mediation prior to temporary hearings where the custody of children is in dispute, as well as prior to final trials.
This is advantageous to the practice of Family Law for two reasons: mediation is a more effective method of dispute resolution than divorce litigation in most cases, and due to the vast overload of Family Law cases in Harris County courts, resolving disputes in mediation takes some of the pressure off our court dockets. Having a Family Law matter delayed because of overloaded courts is bad for families and not pleasant for Family Law attorneys either.
Getting the most value out of the mediation process is my goal as a Family Law mediator. But what constitutes “value”?
For a Family Law attorney, success rate matters, because happy clients matter. The benefits to our clients of Family Law mediation are well known:
Cost-effective: eliminating costly additional preparation and trial.
Expeditious: resolving issues in a day compared to the weeks or months it takes to get before the Court.
Children: settling the dispute out of court can be very beneficial for children and reduces the emotional strain on the parties.
Control: parties maintain more control over how decisions are made and the terms of agreement.
Agreement not imposed: avoiding the adversarial process in which court dates and judicial decisions are imposed.
Confidential: in a private divorce mediation, discussions and tentative agreements are confidential.
The roadblocks to a successful Family Law mediation are often hidden issues that may have no direct bearing on the case. Typically, these are “ancient issues” in the relationship. The art of a Family Law mediator is balancing the problem-solving focus of the mediation with the need to overcome or transform hidden obstacles with careful communication.
In nine times out of 10, participants in an Family Law mediation can reach a point where they will agree on one thing: that it’s better not to let their anger get in the way of their own best interest, and in some cases, the best interest of their children.