5 things to know about mediation

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I have recently added professional mediation services to my practice. People have asked me, “What is mediation? I thought you had to be a lawyer to perform mediation! What kinds of situations are right for mediation? Is it cheaper than dealing with the court system?” These are all great questions, and I have listed 5 things to know about the mediation process below.

1. Counseling and mediation are not the same thing. During mediation, I take off my counselor hat and become a neutral and non-judgmental facilitator in order to work with both parties of a dispute. In mediation, the two parties may be neighbors, divorcing parents, co-workers, etc. Neutrality is key to the role. The mediator does not favor one side or the other. Instead, she works to uncover both side’s interests. Together, they come up with a description of the problem, brainstorm solutions and craft an agreement where both parties feel like they are having their interests met.

2. You don’t have to be a lawyer to mediate. Although lawyers often perform mediation in large, complicated business situations, many mediations are performed by trained mediator who are not lawyers. Often, lawyers do not want to mediate certain disputes.

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3. All mediators in Texas are trained in mediation. In Texas, mediators are trained at two levels. Basic mediation is meant to address problems and disputes encountered by neighbors, co-workers, and family members, as well as employer/employee relations and small business disputes. These are disputes in which the parties want to stay out of court and do not want to involve lawyers. For example, two neighbors arguing over noise, trash or animal waste, may choose mediation as a way to solve their dispute rather than hire a lawyer and to file suit in court. Mediation can be less stressful and more cost effective than the court system.

4. Some mediators are trained in Advanced Family Mediation. The next level of mediation training is called, Advanced Family Mediation. It is meant to assist families going through divorce, or divorced couples who find themselves arguing frequently over the details of coparenting, such as the visitation schedule, or decisions about school or activities . A mediator can help couples or parents through the same process mentioned above so that each party is satisfied with the final agreement. Additionally, the mediator may act as a parent coordinator or parent facilitator to help the divorcing parents craft a strong agreement with enough flexibility to keep the parties out of court.divorcemediation5. Divorced/divorcing parents who choose mediation protect their children. Children exposed to chronic parental conflict suffer greatly. Children’s guilt, sadness, worry, and uncertainty can affect their progress in school and with their peers. Parents who keep their children’s best interests in mind when addressing conflicts are taking steps to safeguard their children’s emotional wellbeing.

I have both levels of mediation training and can work with individuals and families. If you have further questions about the mediation process or about divorce in general, please call me and schedule a free 20-minute consultation at 512-593-0583. Email me at melaniesomerville.atx@gmail.com.

Peace, friends.