Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties hire a third party to exchange offers in an attempt to come to an agreement on some or all of the issues in the case. Local Rules in Travis County require mediation in most family law cases. Other counties in central Texas encourage mediation, some explicitly requiring mediation and others as an unwritten custom. 

If the parties reach a full agreement, they sign what is called a Mediated Settlement Agreement. If the parties reach an agreement on some of the issues and proceed with a trial on the outstanding issues, this is called a Partial Mediated Settlement Agreement. A mediated settlement agreement, whether full or partial, is irrevocable and binding on the parties. 

There are very limited instances in which a party can repudiate the agreement, some of those are as follows:

  1. A party to the agreement was a victim of family violence and the agreement is not in the best interest of the child
  2. Fraud, failure to disclose, and duress in obtaining the signature of a party
  3. Illegal or void provisions

Mediation can be an extremely effective way for the parties to reach an agreement with which they are content. The process can be more efficient for reaching a solution and avoiding the costs of a trial. It also allows the parties to reach creative solutions that work for them, which a court would not otherwise order in a trial. Both parties need to come into the process ready to make concessions because mediation only works when each side sets reasonable expectations. Throughout the mediation process, clients and their attorneys carefully weigh the offers against the possible outcomes at trial.

As a Mediator

I mediate in limited circumstances. I offer mediation in person and via Zoom. I mediate in English, Spanish, and Russian and translate relevant documents in the process of mediating, saving parties the cost of having to hire a translator. My rate for mediation is $300/hour, $1,200 for half a day (4 hours), and $2,400 for a full day (8 hours). This rate is split among the parties, meaning that each party would pay $600 for half a day or $1,100 for a full day. Any hours past the 8-hour full-day rate are billed at $300/hour.