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Mediation (please see below for useful links)
The law of the State of Texas (in Section 154.023 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code) provides a good definition of MEDIATION:
"(a) Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.
(b) A mediator may not impose his own judgment on the issues for that of the parties."
When I serve as a mediator, I cannot also serve as an attorney in that case. My usual charges to serve as a mediator are as follows:
$800.00 per half-day (up to 4 hours)
$1,600.00 per full-day (up to 8 hours-not including lunch)
$200.00 per hour for each full or partial hour of mediation after the end of the originally-scheduled mediation period.
These charges include travel to a mediation site in Tarrant County, Texas, but do not include any additional charges for meals or for rent for the mediation site (if any). I do not charge extra for additional parties, however, a mediation with more than two disputing parties often naturally takes longer.
If a planned mediation session does not occur, then all but $200.00 of the above fees shall be refunded to the person(s) who paid such fees—unless it is my fault that the mediation does not occur, in which case, I will refund all of the above fees to the person(s) who paid such fees.
In practice there are two kinds of mediators: (1) mediators who facilitate communication between parties without imposing their own judgment on the issues (this type of mediator often conducts the mediation with everyone mostly in one room so the parties can talk to each other) and (2) mediators who tell people what they should do to settle their dispute (this type of mediator often conducts the entire mediation with the parties in separate rooms and does not expect the parties to talk to each other). Some attorneys prefer the second type of mediator because of the perception that they are able to "dispose" of cases faster and because attorneys are sometimes reluctant to allow their clients to speak up. While the second type might seem desirable at first glance, that type of mediator sometimes has difficulty remaining impartial (a mediator can't be neutral AND give good advice to both sides at the same time).
A mediator who is also an attorney is not allowed to represent either one of the disputing parties in the mediation. Besides, it is a bad idea to accept legal advice from someone who is not your own attorney!
I believe that a mediator who knows how to help the disputing parties feel empowered to find their own solutions to their problems is a better mediator than one who merely tells people what to do. A mediator should not be afraid to help people deal with their emotions. People often have to get past their emotional hangups before they are ready to negotiate in a more business-like manner.
The point of mediation is to be more in control of your own destiny. The idea is to avoid having an authority figure (like a Judge or an Attorney) deciding your future for you. If a person feels that the mediated agreement was imposed on him or her, then he or she is less likely to abide by that agreement in the future. But if a person feels that the mediated agreement was his or her own deal, then he or she is more likely to continue to abide by that agreement. When people abide by their agreements, there is less need for expensive enforcement lawsuits in the future.
A good test question for a mediator is: Will the mediator allow the parties to talk to each other in the same room during the mediation? If the answer is "no" then that mediator is probably not comfortable helping emotional people work out their own deal!
More Information about Mediation
For more information about how mediation is done, please see my One-Page Overview of the Phases of Mediation. I have used this Overview in training literally hundreds of people in mediation.
For more information about how to prepare for a mediation and how to act during the mediation, please see my Suggestions for Achieving an Effective Negotiation, Mediation, or Collaborative Meeting page.
I have been a qualified mediator and a mediation instructor since 1990. Please see the MediationDynamics.com website for more detailed information about my mediation training courses.
As the president of the Tarrant County Association of Mediators, I am very familiar with the practice of mediation in this area. I am available to serve as a mediator when necessary, but more likely, I would serve as your attorney in a case that we take to mediation with another mediator since I can't be both your mediator and your attorney at the same time. If you really need a lawyer to act like both your mediator and your attorney at the same time, then you need Collaborative Law.
If you have a family-law dispute and need more assistance in reaching an agreed resolution, please see the page about Collaborative Law.
I would be happy to discuss your case briefly and estimate my fees by telephone. I DO NOT CHARGE for your first phone call with me! If you leave me a message on my answering machine, I will return your call as soon as I can.
- Mark W. Batchelder
© 2005, 2012 All rights reserved.
Mark W. Batchelder
Attorney at Law
Fort Worth, Texas