What is Family Mediation in Texas?
- Family mediation is a confidential meeting between the parties and a neutral third party in which the mediator facilitates communications to help the parties settle their dispute.
- If the parties are represented by counsel, the attorneys will arrange for the mediation. If the parties are representing themselves (pro se), they should contact the mediator directly. Both parties must agree to mediation. Before the mediation begins, each party will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate.
- Generally the first meeting between the mediator and the parties takes between 3 and 4 hours. During this time, the parties will explore the issues that are the subject of disagreement. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare a written Mediation Agreement containing the terms of the agreement to be filed with the court in the divorce or custody action. If no agreement is reached, the mediator will declare an impasse and notify the court that the mediation was not successful. If the parties reach agreement, the parties will sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement that will be filed with the court in the divorce action.
- Once the parties sign the agreement, it is binding and will not be modified by the court unless there are rare and extraordinary circumstances.
- The mediation process is confidential. The mediator will not be called to testify in the divorce or custody case. At the end of the mediation, the mediator will destroy his notes taken during the mediation.