Divorce & Family Law in Tarrant County > Mediation vs. Collaborative Law in Texas

Posted on August 8, 2013


From Dick Price, Esq.:

The differences are not huge, but are noteworthy. The following is a similar discussion of the differences between mediation and Collaborative Law, but in the Texas context:

1. In Texas, attorneys are generally present during mediations, just as they are in Collaborative cases. In several other states, the parties usually attend mediation sessions without attorneys.

2. Texas mediations are most often conducted using the caucus model. The parties and their respective attorneys usually stay in separate rooms, with the mediator shuttling back and forth between rooms to convey and discuss offers and objections. There is little or no face-to-face contact between the parties at most Texas negotiations.

3. Mediations in Texas are usually a one-shot process, scheduled for all day or half a day, with no subsequent sessions. Sometimes, complex cases result in marathon sessions. Rarely, there are follow-up sessions to try to complete the settlement. The result, especially in half day mediations, is a lot of pressure to settle quickly, without much time for generating alternatives or considering consequences. Collaborative Law cases are usually resolved through a series of relatively short negotiating sessions.

4. Collaborative Law cases in Texas often involve neutral experts who work for both parties. In mediations in Texas, there’s usually no expert at the mediation, or there may be two of each kind of expert, one for each side. There’s usually no communication specialist or coach for the parties in mediation to help them be more effective in negotiating. As a result, bad behavior is not moderated.

5. The lead up to each system is also different. In Texas cases, mediation usually occurs after there have been court hearings, formal discovery and exchanges of offers and counteroffers. There is a spirit of competition and settlements are considered in part in comparison to what the parties think the judge might award. In Collaborative cases, there are no court hearings, formal discovery or preliminary exchanges of offers. There are a series of meetings where issues are discussed and information is voluntarily exchanged in a spirit of cooperation. The objective in a Collaborative case is for both parties to achieve their goals, rather than to just maximize the settlement for one party.

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