Mediation FAQs

What is Mediation?

In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates communication between the two or more disputing parties. Mediation is one of several dispute resolution procedures available to help individuals and groups resolve conflict. The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement that the participants find reasonable and in their best interests. Mediation can provide a time and cost effective alternative to legal action.

Why Use Mediation?
Mediation allows two or more parties to participate in a process to resolve a dispute. It is often used as an alternative to legal action. It allows people a higher level of control over the decisions about their dispute, and it can save a considerable amount of time and money when compared to litigation.

  • Keep your dirty laundry out of court
  • Closure and moving on
  • Provide groundwork for future communication/working relationships

What Does a Mediator Do?
A mediator directs a process that promotes productive communication so that participants can discuss their dispute in a safe and neutral setting. The mediator’s role is not to determine who is right or wrong, or to make any decisions about how to resolve the dispute, but rather to facilitate communication.

What Can I Expect in a Mediation?
You will have an opportunity to talk about your dispute without any interruption. The mediator will ask questions, clarify what has been stated, and assist both parties in determining the important issues and options for resolving the dispute. After discussing options, the participants will decide what agreements they would be willing to make in order to resolve their dispute. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will record it and make sure it says what the participants want it to say. Each participant will sign the agreement and receive a copy to take home.

Is Mediation Confidential?
The mediator and the participants agree to keep confidential everything that is said during the mediation. The mediator holds confidential all communications, written or oral, which occur prior to, during, or after mediation. The mediator will destroy all written notes taken during the mediation. There are exceptions to the confidentiality agreement, generally surrounding the legal requirement to report suspected abuse.

How Do You Prepare for a Mediation?
Most mediators will conduct an intake process where they will ask you for information that will assist them in understanding the nature of your dispute. Some may ask you for a written statement. At the beginning of the mediation, you will be asked to give a brief summary of the issues from your perspective, and what you would like to have accomplished through the mediation session. You may begin to think about how you would summarize the issues and what you would like to accomplish.

The success of mediation is generally related to the ability of the parties to communicate productively. In relational conflict, such as in family law cases, it is important that both parties are emotionally ready to discuss the conflict.

How Much Time Will it Take?
The length of the mediation is determined by the participants’ ability to communicate productively and and the complexity of their dispute. A mediation may last a few hours or require multiple sessions. Most mediations are scheduled for half day sessions, but full day sessions are not unusual.

How Much Will it Cost?
Mediators have a wide range of fees. Some charge by the hour, some by the half day. The Austin Association of Mediators has a volunteer listing of mediators who have recently completed formal mediation training and are willing to volunteer on a pro bono basis in order to build mediation experience.

What Kind of Training Do Mediators Receive?
Mediators generally attend a 40 hour basic mediation training course. An additional 30 hour family law mediation course and many advanced mediation courses are available. Although there is no licensing system for mediators, the Texas Mediation Credentialing Association (TMCA) is an organization that offers mediation credentials at several levels.

Are There Different Kinds of Mediation?
Yes, there are many kinds of mediation. For more information on these, click here.

What Roles Do Attorneys Play in Mediation?
While they are not required in most mediations, attorneys can be very helpful as information resources. Some instances in which attorneys can be helpful are in family disputes (ie. legal issues surrounding divorce) or any kind of dispute in which legal information may be needed. In civil litigation mediation, attorney participation is strongly recommended.

What About Court-Ordered Mediations?
The courts have recognized the value of mediation, and in some cases will order the parties to use mediation in an effort to resolve their disputes.

How is Mediation Different Than Counseling?
Counseling is focused on relationship, on understanding and dealing with your feelings. It can help you change behavior patterns and work on communication with a partner or family member. In mediation the focus is on practical and legal aspects. The structure of mediation helps provide a safe place to work out disputes together and enables people to focus on achieving a mutual agreement that is beneficial to all parties involved.

How is Mediation Different than Arbitration?
Simply put, an arbitrator will make a decision based on what you've presented them. A mediator will not decide who is right and who is wrong. They will remain neutral and will help you come to a mutually agreed-upon outcome.

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