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     As part of my law practice, I sometimes work as a mediator and I also use mediation in my family law practice to settle cases. I highly recommend the mediation process if you have not yet been able to reach complete agreement in your family law case or other type of civil case.

     I am available for hire as a neutral mediator. My hourly rate for working as a mediator is $300 per hour ($150 per side per hour). I require a $1,000 non-refundable retainer at the time you schedule a mediation with me. The non-refundable retainer will be applied to the mediation fee if the mediation occurs as scheduled on the date and time you select when I am hired as a mediator. I charge a $200 fee to reschedule a mediation once the date has been placed on my mediation calendar. A mediation contract will need to be completed at the time a mediation is scheduled. Call me at 512-630-3745 to schedule a mediation or if you have questions about mediation or my mediation fees.

     Mediation is a process that is frequently used for settling disagreements between divorcing spouses or between divorced parents who cannot agree on possible changes to child custody or child support. In family law cases, usually the parties and their attorneys will hire a mediator for a half day (morning or afternoon) or for a full day to mediate their cases and try to reach agreements on the disputed issues. A neutral mediator cannot force the parties to reach agreement. A good mediator will make suggestions for settling the case so that the parties have more control over their cases than they would otherwise have if they went to a contested court hearing and had a judge decide the unresolved issues.

     A good mediator will save the parties time and money and emotional pain by helping them resolve their cases sooner rather than later. A mediation can frequently be scheduled and conducted within days of the initial request for mediation. If you and your attorney are ready to get a setting on the Court's calendar, frequently the earliest available hearing date on the Court's calendar is weeks or months in the future. Paying an attorney for his/her preparation and appearance at a contested court hearing is not cheap since you are usually paying your lawyer at least $300 an hour for all of his/her time spent working on your case.

     If your case does get set for a contested court hearing, you will frequently have to wait quite a while in the justice center or courthouse on the day of the setting before the judge gets around to starting your case since your case is almost certainly NOT going to  be the only one on the judge's docket for the day of your hearing. The meter for your attorney fees is running the whole time you are at the justice center or courthouse waiting for your hearing to get started. That is a real expensive way to try to resolve your family law problems.

     You can frequently avoid a contested hearing altogether by settling a case at mediation, signing a mediated settlement agreement, and then getting a court order drafted and signed by a judge who will almost always accept the terms of the mediated settlement agreement that the parties and their attorneys have worked out on their own.

     There are thousands of divorces and other types of family law cases filed here in Williamson County and in surrounding counties every year. The simple truth of the matter is that judges in Williamson County and elsewhere do not have an unlimited amount of time to spend on your case so that they will really understand everything that you might want them to understand before they make decisions in your case. A judge's decisions based on incomplete information may change the way your family relationships work for a long time to come. If you and your spouse (or you and your former spouse if this is a divorce decree modification case) can reach a settlement of your case, chances are excellent that your own settlement will be a better deal for the both of you as well as for your children, if there are children involved.

   The mediator will frequently meet with each party and his/her attorney separately at the mediator's offices. The mediator will shuttle back and forth between rooms until the parties reach agreement on some or all of their disagreements. Getting both spouses and the lawyers in one place is a big step in getting everyone to focus on rationally discussing the divorce (or other family law problem) and working toward reaching a final resolution of the disputed issues.

     The mediator is usually a lawyer who handles family law cases as part of his/her law practice. Usually each side pays for half of the mediator's fee. A mediator will frequently charge $300 per hour and may require that you pay them for at least 3-4 hours of their time.

     In order to reduce the amount of a judge's time that will have to be spent on a case, a judge may require that the parties attend mediation before allowing the case to be set for a final hearing lasting more than a couple of hours. If your attorney requests two or three or more hours of a Williamson County judge's time to hear a case, it is almost certain that the judge will require you to go to mediation before he/she will hear your case.

     Successful mediations are based on good preparation. I recommend exchanging all relevant information and documents at least one week before the scheduled mediation so that everyone can review and process the information before mediation starts.

     I also recommend bringing all relevant documents with you to the mediation in case you need to refer to them during the mediation. For example, if there is a disagreement about how much money is in a retirement account that is going to be split, you can simply refer to the latest retirement account statement if you have a copy of the most recent statement with you at the mediation.

     If you will be attending a mediation, you and your lawyer should make a detailed list of all the remaining disagreements that you want to address during the mediation session. You should always bring all the relevant documents with you to the mediation so that you can make the most of the mediation session.

     I recommend that one of the attorneys draft a proposed final order before the mediation and let both sides review it for a few days before the mediation so that you can focus on the issues that are not agreed upon by the parties.

     Mediation is confidential. Nothing said at mediation can be used later in a contested court hearing and the mediator can never be called as a witness for one side or the other if the case is not resolved at mediation.

     The mediator is neutral. He will not take your side or take the other party's side in the case. He is not the judge for your case.  He will not make decisions for you. He will ask questions and make suggestions to the parties and the attorneys. Sometimes he will point things out to you that you did not think about before. Sometimes he will tell you how he thinks your case may play out in front of a judge if you do not settle it before you get to a contested court hearing. He will listen to your side of the dispute. Most cases that go to mediation are completely or partially settled at the mediation. Most people who attend mediation to try to settle their cases are glad they did.

     If you have questions about mediation, please feel free to call Ken Crain at 512-630-3745.