Q:What does court ordered and voluntary mediation mean?
Court ordered mediation, court annexed mediation or mandatory mediation
all mean that a judge or other authority ordered or required that mediation occur. Voluntary mediation refers to situations
where the parties agree to mediation without being ordered by the court or another authority.
Q: What is mediation and how is it different than court proceedings?
In mediation the parties are able to talk directly to each other, including
asking questions and providing information. There are no rules of evidence and parties are not compelled to follow the more
formal structure of a court hearing or trial. Each party may take breaks, talk to their representative privately, or even
call and and speak to other people during breaks in the mediation.
In the model used
by Positive Communication Systems, the parties in the mediation may take as many breaks as they would like and may also bring
in subject matter experts, consultants and of course legal representatives as they deem important to the conversation.
The mediator does not act like a judge and does not develop a decision or ruling on any aspect of the dispute
at any time before, during or after the mediation. The agreement reached by the parties will be their own, in their own words
and in their own best interests. When legal representatives are present they often draft the agreement on behalf of their
The mediator does not develop the agreement and one party will also write
or scribe the agreement. The mediator may ask questions to allow the parties to explore all aspects of the agreement, but
they will not make suggestions or provide assistance in the drafting or wording or the final document.
One party or his or her representative will then agree to file the original copy of the mediated settlement
with the court if required.
What if we agree but don't want to write an agreement?
In some types of mediations there may not be the need for a written agreement. This is particularly true when
the mediation results in a clarification or a correction of an incorrect perception about an existing court order, procedure,
policy or agreement. When this happens the parties may choose not to create a written settlement agreement, or in some cases
the complaint that initiated the mediation may be withdrawn.
In cases where a written
agreement is not developed and signed by the parties the mediator will ask the parties the benefits or possible challenges
to not developing a written agreement. As with all types of contracts and agreements, only written, signed documents there
are advantages and possible disadvantageous to reducing the agreement to writing.
Q: What happens if an agreement isn't reached?
Although the vast majority of cases that come to mediation do end up in agreement, there is always the option
for a non-agreement to exist. In these situations, known as an impasse, the mediator just signs a form indicating a mediation
was held on a specific date between the named parties in the dispute and that no agreement was reached.
Q: What training does a mediator need to have in Texas?
Mardi Winder-Adams has training that exceeds all requirements under the
ADR sections of the Civil Code as well as the Texas Family Code. In general mediators in Texas are required to have a basic
40 hour mediation training and an additional 30 hours to of specific family and divorce mediation training to mediate family
Mediators in Texas can voluntarily credential themselves through the Texas
Mediator Credentialing Association. Mardi has been at the highest level, Credentialed Distinguished Mediator, since 2005.
More information on mediator credentialing and standards can be found at http://www.txmca.org/index.html as well as at the Texas Association of Mediators website http://www.txmediator.org/.