WHAT IS MEDIATION?
The Texoma Dispute Resolution Center‘s primary service is Mediation. Unlike litigation or arbitration, Mediation provides a private, confidential setting that allows the parties involved in a dispute to maintain control over the outcome instead of giving that power to a judge or jury. In many cases, Mediation saves you time and money (compared to the costs of litigation, arbitration and other options).
Not sure what Mediation is? Here is an excellent definition from the NAFCM (National Association For Community Mediation):
Mediation is a process of dispute resolution in which one or more impartial third parties intervenes in a conflict with the consent of the disputants and assists them in negotiating a consensual and informed agreement. In mediation, the decision-making authority rests with the parties themselves. Recognizing variations in styles and cultural differences, the role of the mediator(s) involves assisting the disputants in defining and clarifying issues, reducing obstacles to communication, exploring possible solutions, and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediation presents the opportunity to peacefully express conflict and to “hear each other out” even when an agreement is not reached.
Mediation gives you an opportunity to really say what’s important to you and for you to hear the other person’s perspective. It is not about winning or losing, instead the goal of Mediation is to provide you with the information you need to identify creative solutions to a problem that work for everyone involved. In fact, you can’t “lose” a Mediation- you either reach an agreement or you don’t. The Texoma DRC believes that by giving you decision-making power in the Mediation process, it is possible to preserve or improve strained relationships.
HOW DOES THE TEXOMA DRC MEDIATION PROCESS WORK?
Here’s a step-by-step diagram of how a typical court referred case and party initiated case make their way through the Texoma DRC‘s Mediation process (click on the graphic to see the full size version):
During the actual Mediation session, the Mediator will introduce themselves to the parties, explain how the Mediation process works, have the parties fill out an “Agreement to Mediate” (if they haven’t already) and answer any questions the parties may have. The Mediator will then guide the parties through the rest of the Mediation process so they:
- have an opportunity to talk about what they hope to accomplish during the Mediation;
- identify all of the topics/issues/problems that need to be addressed or resolved during the Mediation;
- participate in problem-solving activities and negotiations to identify mutually agreeable solutions; and
- create a written or verbal agreement
Depending on the case- some of these steps may be conducted in private sessions (where the Mediator meets with the parties separately), in joint sessions (where the Mediator meets will all parties at the same time) or a combination of both. The specific format used is based on the preference of the parties and/or the discretion of the Mediator.
If an agreement is reached during a Mediation, the parties can choose to sign a written agreement- which becomes an enforceable contract. If an agreement or solution is not reached, the parties can still have the case decided by the court, an arbitrator or resolved in some other way. Also, if the parties choose to not sign a written agreement and the dispute ends up in court- be aware that due to the confidentiality of the Mediation- neither the Mediator nor the participants can testify in court about what happened during the Mediation. **Exceptions to Mediation confidentiality include (but are not limited to)- abuse, neglect, criminal activities conducted during the Mediation and/or other statutory disclosure requirements**
WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?
Mediators do not make judgments, express opinions about the merits of a case or give legal advice to the parties. Their job is to facilitate communication and guide the parties through the Mediation process.
Texoma DRC Mediators help parties resolve or manage disputes in a wide variety of cases- such as Family (divorce, partnership agreements, child custody/parenting plans, parent/teen disputes, estate distributions, etc.), Civil (real estate, tenant/landlord, consumer/merchant, business and small claims, employee/employer, neighborhood/apartment building, etc.), Personal Injury, some Criminal matters (such as juvenile justice) and other issues.
WHO ARE OUR VOLUNTEERS?
The Texoma DRC will use a diverse roster of professionally trained volunteer Mediators. All of our volunteers must complete a specialized Mediation training course that meets the minimum training requirements (under Section 154.052 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code or O.S. §, Chapter 38A, Section 1838 of the Oklahoma Choice in Mediation Act) to be a qualified Texas Mediator or Oklahoma Mediator. Volunteers also have the option to complete a combined course in order to Mediate cases in both states. If you’d like more information about becoming a Texoma DRC volunteer Mediator- visit our Volunteer page.
WHERE ARE MEDIATIONS HELD?
Mediations can be held in community centers, university or school buildings, government offices and a variety of other convenient locations throughout the area. The Texoma Dispute Resolution Center currently offers Mediation services in Texas on Tuesday and in Oklahoma on Wednesday (other days may be available under certain circumstances). Mediations are scheduled as either half day (9am or 1pm start) or full day (9am start) sessions. Half day sessions typically last 2-4 hours and full day sessions typically last 6-8 hours. **In some cases, additional sessions may be necessary to reach an agreement.**
HOW MUCH DOES MEDIATION COST?
The Texoma DRC offers low-cost or free Mediation services to residents, businesses and organizations who live in our service area. In Texas this area includes Grayson and Cooke counties and in Oklahoma it includes Bryan, Marshall, Johnston and Love counties. The administrative filing fee for all Mediation cases is $25 per party. The fees charged for Mediation through the Texoma DRC are listed on our FEES Page.
A fee waiver should be requested if a party’s income is below a certain level, the court or other agency certifies them as indigent or they have other circumstances that merit the reduced fee.
For more information about Mediation services through the Texoma DRC, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.