Monday, May 21, 2012

Should You Try Mediation?

Simple answer:  Yes!  

Here are some reasons why you should plan on using mediation:

  • Judges almost always require it, at least in Tarrant County, Texas divorces.  If you can't quickly get your case settled otherwise, your Judge will almost always order the parties to go to mediation prior to trial.
  • The process works.  In my experience, it seems to work about 80-90% of the time.  Even in the cases where we don't end the session with an agreement, the parties almost always come to an agreement shortly afterwards on their own.  In most cases, if there's no final agreement, at least some issues get disposed of or at least narrowed.  That will save time if you ever go to court.
  • Mediation is good for the parties.  It's a private and confidential process.  Negotiations take place away from the courthouse and information is not so publicly exposed as it would be in a trial.  It's also good because it brings an end to the legal dispute and the parties get to be the ones deciding how it is resolved.  It's also usually cheaper than preparing for, and going to, trial.
  • Mediation is often better than the alternative.  Sometimes, clients fear testifying in court, so mediation sessions become very appealing.  Sometimes, clients just don't make good witnesses, or they may be unsympathetic people, or  they may have some bad history they don't want brought out.  Sometimes, clients run out of money and can't afford to get experts, and pay for the preparation for trial.  For all those people, mediation is a safer alternative.
  • The result of a successful mediation is an enforceable agreement.  Courts are unanimous in supporting and enforcing properly signed and prepared  mediation settlement agreements.  You don't have to worry about someone changing their mind.  CAVEAT:  Be sure you understand and agree to everything, exactly as written, before you sign off on the mediation agreement.

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