What is Mediation?

According to the State of Texas, Mediation is defined as follows:

            Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.   Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 154.023

A simple definition of mediation is “a process that helps people work out their problems.”   A mediator interacts with each involved party of a conflict or disagreement to help bring them to a compromise which works for everyone.  Generally, each party gives a little in order to resolve the conflict.  The Mediation process looks toward the future and encourages the parties to examine their needs and interests moving forward without emphasis on fault or blame.  Because every problem or dispute is different, every mediation is different – but most mediations share some general characteristics.  The mediator meets with all involved parties to help define the important issues and discuss potential resolutions.  The mediator then works with the parties to help identify common ground upon which a resolution can be based.  When necessary, the parties to mediation may use the services of other professionals to ensure that they have the information they need to come to an agreement.  Some professionals that may be retained in various types of mediation include: accountants, financial planners, attorneys, religious counselors, and other advisors.  The goal at Mediation is that the parties come to an agreement resolving their dispute. That agreement is called a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). A Mediated Settlement Agreement is legally binding and enforceable as a contract.

Who can benefit from Mediation?

A person who is having a hard time coming to an understanding or agreement with someone else can benefit from Mediation.  The “someone else” can be another person or persons, a business, or an organization. Sometimes when one is in conflict, it can be hard to see the path to resolution clearly.  That’s where I come in.  Whether it is a dispute with a friend, a neighbor, a family member, an ex-spouse, a co-worker, a homeowners’ association, a club, a business, or any other entity, I can help you move towards a solution to the problem.

An employer dealing with conflicts between employees.  Whether it is a simple personality dispute or something with more of a back story, conflict among employees can cause businesses a lot of money.  All employers are familiar with the costs of replacing an employee: searching for the right candidate, employee training, and that transition time in getting a new employee up to speed. But some of the costs are less obvious: decreased productivity, gossip, and even attempts to make a co-worker look bad all add up to real expenses that affect the bottom line. I can help employees work through their differences with the ultimate goal of retaining valued employees and strengthening your team.

A business owner having difficulties with a client.  The investment in Mediation to resolve the issue can not only result in a happy customer, but it also can avoid bad reviews, complaints, and potential litigation.

Married couples who have decided to divorce.  I can help address the many issues involved in dividing property and parenting plans.  This allows the couple to save money on legal fees and time in obtaining a divorce. It is becoming more common for couples to Mediate the particulars of their divorce prior to filing.  They reach an agreement with regard to their parenting plan and property division, then one spouse retains an attorney to draft the paperwork for an agreed divorce.  This is an excellent way of easing what can be a difficult and emotional process. Mediation attains results that benefit the entire family.

Parents who want or need to modify an existing parenting plan. I can assist the parents in coming to an agreement which will save money on legal fees and save time when the case goes before the court for modification.

A renter who is having difficulties working out issues with a landlord.  I can help the landlord and tenant come to a resolution of disputes without resorting to legal action.

A consumer who has had difficulty satisfying payments to creditors.  Consumers do not have to wait until legal action is initiated by their creditors.  Accounts are generally turned over to collection agencies in an attempt to collect without litigation.  Mediation can resolve these matters without the additional costs of litigation.

Families facing difficult decisions regarding the care of loved ones.  Mediation is an excellent vehicle to make sure everyone’s views are heard and help the family work together to make appropriate decisions.

Families with serious disagreements between some family members. Even when they only directly involve a couple of people, inter-family disputes can interfere with family dynamics and create discord among the entire group.  Mediation can work wonders to resolve problems and facilitate harmonious family interactions.

Families with disagreements or disputes over wills or probate matters.  Engaging in Mediation can avoid the ordeal of litigation during an especially difficult time.

How can mediation help me?

Beyond helping to resolve cases that are already in litigation, I can also help avoid the need to go to court by working to resolve things before they go that far – and get that expensive. Mediation offers the means to reach a solution that is designed by you and within your control.  Once things go to court, parties have very little control over the way the problem is resolved.  Additionally, Mediation is private. Court proceedings and filings are a matter of public record; Mediation allows parties to maintain confidentiality.

If your conflict is not likely to result in litigation, mediation can still work for you.  I can help you resolve issues that otherwise may create long-term discord within families, friendships, or working relationships. Mediation is focused on strengthening relationships rather than tearing them down.

            Mediation is an efficient use of time.  Small matters can be resolved in just a few hours.  More complicated issues may take longer, but the time devoted to Mediation is a fraction of that spent in court, trial preparations, and trial.

Why is it good to hire a Mediator?

When we are in the middle of a dispute, it can be very difficult to see things from different perspectives and identify means of resolution.  A Mediator helps to illuminate things that are difficult to see and find the path to leave the problem behind.  For a case which is not in litigation, Mediation is a vehicle to speed resolution, decrease stress, and lessen bad feelings.  For cases that are in litigation, the majority of courts require mediation prior to a trial, so getting to Mediation can decrease costs in the case.  The sooner a case is resolved, the lower the discovery expenses and avoiding trial fees is a huge money saver. Mediation is an efficient use of time.  Small matters can be resolved in just a few hours.  More complicated issues may take longer, but the time devoted to Mediation is a fraction of that spent in court, trial preparations, and trial. The biggest bonus is having a say in how things are resolved and in what ways compromises are made.

Certified Mediators are trained in conflict resolution and bring a neutral viewpoint to the process.  This encourages parties to expand their own views and consider options for resolution of their dispute that may not have been on their radar.  The process is relatively speedy.  Many disputes can be resolved in a few hours, one half day, or a full day session.  Mediation is collaborative – the parties work together for a solution. At Mediation, the parties themselves have control over how things are worked out and agreements can be customized. Once a case gets before a judge or jury, this is not the case. It is much less expensive to resolve problems before they escalate.  This is true both for issues that are pre-litigation and those that are already in litigation. Mediation can not only save time and money, but it can also save the ongoing and daily stress of living with the conflict.

What does a Mediator do?

Let’s start with what a Mediator does not do.  A Mediator does not take sides.  A Mediator does not make decisions for the parties.  A Mediator DOES work with the parties to identify the main issues in dispute and help craft a workable solution.  A Mediator helps to find common ground for the parties as a means to resolve the dispute and move past the problem. It is always the people involved who make the decisions in Mediation.

As the name implies, a Mediator works as an intermediary.  It is the Mediator’s job to understand the positions and goals of all involved parties and help them work toward a mutually acceptable resolution.  Mediation is a process of compromise, which means that usually no one gets exactly what they want – but everyone gets something. As part of that process, we will work through what is most important to each party and where there is room to give a little. It is part of a Mediator’s work to help express the positions and interests of each side to increase understanding, which is ultimately what allows people to work out their problems.

What should I expect?

Most Mediations have a format similar to this:

I.  The parties meet together in a room with the mediator. The Mediator explains the process and plan for the day. The parties explain the issues from each of their perspective. All are allowed to “say their piece.”

II. The parties may separate into different rooms to meet (caucus) with the Mediator. The Mediator may then go between the parties using a type of “shuttle diplomacy” to help bring them to agreement. Ideally, there will be additional group meetings to help clarify or move things along and, if it is helpful, there can be additional caucuses. [NOTE: some Mediations are completed without the use of caucuses]

III. Once an agreement is reached, the Mediator helps draft a Mediated Settlement Agreement for the parties to sign memorializing their agreed resolution.

What if the parties cannot come to an agreement?

Mediation is a very effective process and I have had great success in resolving the conflicts which I have mediated.  That said, there is a case here and there that does not settle in the initial Mediation.  It can be that one or both parties need more time to understand the benefits of resolving their problem before it gets bigger. Sometimes, the answer is to come back and resume Mediation at a later date.  Alternatively, I often agree to work with the sides on an ongoing basis to help them resolve the problem.  For those cases in litigation that do not settle prior to trial, the parties will have no choice but to submit to trial.

Is Mediation expensive?

Mediation is an extremely cost-effective process. The costs of litigation, bad business reviews/complaints, bad blood, or lost productivity associated with ongoing conflict are much greater. Of course, each type of dispute carries its own unique costs, both financial and personal. The emotional costs and stress associated with going through the trial process can be very large. Mediation is also an efficient use of time because all the interested people are available to discuss and work toward resolution.

Where do you offer these services?

Mediation Mosaic is here to help you, your family, and loved ones navigate difficult times. I will come to a location convenient for you and your attorneys. If necessary, I will secure a neutral location in which to conduct your mediation. I am geographically located in Houston, Texas, and am willing to travel to handle cases. It has been my experience that in-person mediations are most effective and are the gold standard but mediation also works very well online. There are situations in which some parties need to attend via zoom or other platform on a case by case basis.

Why the Mosaic Turtle?

The symbolism of the Mosaic Turtle is especially relevant to mediation.  All of the attributes represented by the turtle are brought to bear in the mediation process.  A mosaic pattern is representative of the issues considered by the parties to arrive at a resolution of their dispute. 

Turtle symbolism represents wisdom, patience, emotional strength, understanding, persistence, and pacing yourself.  Turtle symbolism also represents the ability to stay grounded, even in chaotic and challenging times.

Mosaic is a picture or decorative design made by setting small colored pieces, as of stone or tile, into a surface or the process or art of making such pictures or designs.  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

Mosaic is a composition of small pieces just as relationships are composed of many facets. Together these pieces of a mosaic compose a beautiful and functional whole.

Disclaimers and Important Information:

Any information you receive from this website is not offered as legal advice.  The material and information contained on these pages and on any linked pages is intended to provide general information only and not legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying on any information presented here.