What is mediation?
Mediation is a process during which a specially trained impartial, neutral person, the mediator, helps disputing parties (1) communicate their positions on issues, (2) ensure that all points of view are considered, and (3) explore possible solutions. The mediator assists in reconciliation, settlement, and/or creating understanding between parties.
The parties in mediation are the only ones who have the power to decide whether or not to agree to a settlement; the mediator has no power to impose a resolution.
Benefits of mediation include:
- Mediation is orchestrated in a fair and even-handed manner in a relaxed yet business-like atmosphere by the mediator, to minimize stress and emotional trauma for all concerned.
- Mediation provides for the individual's personal involvement by allowing him or her a chance to "process" the issues in their own minds and come to a personal resolution.
- Mediation allows the parties to retain control over the outcome; the mediator controls only the process, the parties control the settlement agreement outcome.
- Mediation allows parties uninterrupted time to state positions and speak to the issues, and provides a platform to express emotions, frustrations and underlying concerns.
- Mediation focuses on feelings and interests rather than on just law and facts. The parties also settle disputes and comply with agreements because they want to, not because they are forced to do so.
- Mediation is future based; what can be done to resolve this dispute and possibly prevent such disputes in the future?
- Mediation is cost effective and costs significantly less than a jury trial. It is also less costly emotionally, than allowing a conflict to go unresolved.
- Mediation is expedient and timely.
- Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process. The parties have nothing to lose and everything to gain -- it's win/win situation.
- Mediation generally produces a favorable outcome and a high degree satisfaction of all parties involved.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a process in which an impartial third party or panel meets with the parties, listens to presentation of both the facts and the law, and then renders a decision. An Arbitrator’s judgment is usually binding, however, in some circumstances parties may agree prior to arbitration, whether or not the decision will be binding. Arbitration differs from mediation in that parties in Arbitration give the power to decide, to the Arbitrator.
How much does it cost?
Civil and Family/ Divorce Case Disputes – includes JP courts, cases with or without legal representation
$325 per party / case filed in McLennan County
$425 per party / case filed outside McLennan County
- Amount in controversy not to exceed $50,000
Family/ Divorce Case
- Parties combined annual income does not exceed $140,000, and
- Couples net liquid assets do not exceed $150,000
Additional fees may apply:
- Overtime fee $50 per hour per party
- $100 per party surcharge may apply if, during mediation, the amount in controversy, or income and assets of parties if found to exceed DRC Criteria.
Payment by all parties is required to schedule mediation and reserve mediation date.
Payments by all parties must be paid no less than 2 weeks prior to mediation.
- Each party will be charged $150 rescheduling free for cancellations within 2 weeks of scheduled mediation date.
Because McLennan County filing fees are part of the Center’s financing, cases filed outside McLennan County pay an additional $100.00 per party. A surcharge may be assessed on cases where the amount in controversy is more than $50,000 and/or the complexity of the case warrants a surcharge. Scheduling fees must be paid in advance and are non-refundable.
WAIVER/REDUCTION OF FEES
Where economic necessity can be demonstrated scheduling fees may be reduced. Contact the DRC for information. *Fees subject to change; contact the DRC for further information
What if we can't come to an agreement?
If the parties cannot reach a settlement, they still have the option of seeking other legal remedies. You do not lose any of your options by participating in mediation.
Mediation vs Litigation
|Accessibility:||Months or possible years||Usually days or weeks|
|Cost:||Significant cost in terms of both time and money||Comparatively nominal|
|Preparation:||Trial preparation is expensive, time consuming and costly||Should be thorough, but is much less time consuming and costly|
|Risk:||Is a Win/Lose situation. Each party's fate is taken out of their hand and placed into the hands of the judge and jury||Normally results in a Win/Win outcome with the parties mutually agreeing to a resolution that each is satisfied with. The process is risk free. It's completely confidential and if there is no resolution, the parties still have every legal remedy available to them.|
|Focus:||The focus is primarily on the facts and the law.||The focus is on the parties' respective positions, issues, interests and emotions. All points of view are considered.|
|Procedure:||Trial procedure is highly structured and for most parties, stressful and traumatic.||Is more informal and relaxed. Less threatening and stressful. Allows parties the opportunity to freely express themselves.|
|Results:||Normally produces a winner and a loser resulting in at least one party being dissatisfied and unhappy. It is not uncommon for all parties involved to be less than satisfied with the outcome.||Generally, produces a favorable outcome with a high degree of satisfaction on the part of all parties with both the process and the results. Nationally, approximately 75% of all cases submitted to mediation result in an agreement between the parties.|
What do I have to lose?
The simple answer is almost nothing. If an acceptable settlement agreement is not reached through mediation, the parties and their attorneys will have expended a minimum amount of time and money. However, this loss is generally very minimal and information gathered in preparation for mediation will be useful later in trial preparation. The success or failure of a mediation session cannot always be measured solely by whether or not the parties "settle" their case. Rather, if significant progress is made, if issues are limited, if either, or both parties gain a more realistic view of the case, then the mediation process has been successful.
Video Conferencing FAQs
Will mediation using Zoom require me to share video with all the other people involved in the case?
Zoom will allow mediators to place individuals and their attorneys into separate conferences. Our customary “caucus” style in which each party is given their own private room to discuss their case with the mediator will also be available via Zoom.
Will mediation over Zoom take longer? Will I be stuck in front of a screen and camera for an entire day?
During in-person mediation, we expect individuals to set aside up to 4-8 hours of distraction-free time in our offices where we can ensure that there will be minimal disruptions. Using Zoom at home during this time of “shelter-in-place” will not give us the same time and space to mediate. We expect mediation over Zoom to take place in several shorter periods, allowing for breaks as well as allowing individuals to take care of necessities during this trying time. Scheduling will be flexible and focus on creating space for several blocks of time where several hours can be spent on mediation at a time rather than expecting an entire day.
How will I join a Zoom video conference for mediation? Do I need a computer?
Registering for a free Zoom account at Zoom.us is the first step. Their website will guide you in downloading the simple application that we will use. You may use any laptop or desktop computer with wireless internet access. A smartphone with wireless internet access will also work. If you are without wireless internet access, a dial-in telephone can provide you with voice access only. The DRC will schedule a pre-mediation “check-in” to ensure that all parties have their technical difficulties addressed 24-48 hours before mediation is scheduled to begin.
Can I expect mediation to work when we are using remote conferencing?
Mediators have often used phone and video conferencing successfully, and the DRC expects to be able to provide quality mediation by whatever means necessary to keep individuals safe. If you are able to participate and are committed to finding a creative solution to your conflict, then mediation using Zoom can work. If you are not comfortable using video-conferences or are not able to participate due to the stress of life during a pandemic, then we are happy to postpone service until we can mediate again in-person.