Mediation is a settlement process where parties to a suit use a trained mediator to work toward a settlement agreement. Texas utilizes this process to help parties resolve their issue without the expense of a trial.
Mediations are often most helpful in a family law or probate suit to provide for customized solutions that are catered to your situation. A judge in a family law or probate matter are often times limited from making custom orders, both by statute and due to time constraints. Through the mediation process, the intricacies of your life are considered and accommodated.
Lacy Kimball is a certified mediator and has participated in many mediations. She supports mediation as an excellent settlement approach that is always worth the time and effort- even if settlement is not reached.
1) I will have to see the other side. This is often times a big fear for people in a lawsuit. Mediations can be a "round table" type approach, but often times the parties and their respective attorneys are each placed in separate rooms with the mediator moving between rooms. This allows privacy for the person and their attorney while allowing the mediator to keep confidences in each room. Furthermore, if you are concerned about seeing the other side at all, times to arrive and leave can be staggered.
2) If I make an offer in mediation, I will be stuck to it. Mediations are a confidential settlement process. Any offers made in mediation are confidential and cannot be presented to the Judge. A mediator is also barred from being called as a witness in a trial.
3) I have to settle at mediation. Mediations are a voluntary process to work toward a settlement. You are not required to settle at mediation. If you do not settle at mediation, you will still have a Judge determine your case.
4) If I settle, I can't change my mind. For family law specific cases, this is true. Once you sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement, there are VERY FEW instances when a settlement can be revoked.
5) Mediation will be a waste of time and money. This is the second most often heard fear about mediation. While it is true that not every case settles, the vast majority of cases do settle during mediation or before trial. Mediations- even when they do not settle- are excellent ways to evaluate your position, possibly find out new information, and gather a strategy for trial. Lacy Kimball advises to NEVER draw a line in the sand before mediation. You never know what information you may find out. Approach mediation with an open mind and often times the settlement will be better than you could have expected.