Mediation has become one of the predominant methods of settling Family Law issues. It first became popular in Texas in the mid-1980s and now is used in most Family Law cases in Tarrant County and throughout Texas. Most judges require the parties to go to mediation before they can have a final trial. Judges know that most cases (90-95% approximately) will settle in mediation, so they don’t want to waste court time on cases that are capable of being settled.
Mediation works for several reasons. We are lucky to have a number of skilled mediators in Tarrant County and that adds to the success rate. The mediator is a neutral party who works with both sides to keep them talking and trying to find common ground. Being neutral, the mediator is able to bring a fresh perspective, somewhat like the judge would have, to the disputed issues. Mediators are generally skilled in communications and are well-versed in the psychological aspects of settling disputes. The parties feel safe and have an opportunity to analyze offers with their attorney and to get some insight from the mediator.
Mediation requires preparation. The parties need to gather and organize their information and they need to consider the best way to present their proposals. Each side needs to have a strategy for reaching a favorable settlement. The parties and attorneys should not begin with their ultimate bottom-line offer; they need to have room to modify their positions for anticipated objections.
Start with your goals. Just like in Collaborative cases, it is very helpful for the parties to have thought about what their most important goals, needs and interests are. It is easier to reach an agreement if both sides can talk about what is most important to them in the long term.
Think business. It also helps if the parties can treat the negotiations as a business deal rather than a very emotional event. That’s not to minimize the deep emotions often involved in divorces. We have found that our clients can be most effective if they can get in the mindset of doing a business negotiation and not focus on the emotional aspects during the negotiations.
Remember, most cases settle. If the parties and attorneys will invest time in preparation, if they will focus on underlying needs and if they can remain flexible, there is a high probability of success with mediation. Mediation is the fastest and best way to settle most litigated cases.
For more information about mediation, contact The Price Law Firm to schedule your initial consultation.