Law Offices of Rhonda S. Ross

121 East 12th, Suite 6,
Houston, TX 77008

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(281) 845-9330

Law Offices of Rhonda S. Ross

What Actually Is Alternative Resolution In A Family Law Case?


There are three types of processes in Alternative Resolution: Mediation, Arbitration and Collaboration. A mediation consists of a minimum of two parties. Each party has an attorney present and they must be willing to compromise. No one gets everything they want in a mediation. If one party gets everything, it probably was not a very good mediation. A mediation is usually a one day event and often occurs after discovery and right before a trial. In an arbitration, the parties present their cases before a lawyer or an expert in the field who determines the final judgment or outcome. Sometimes, there are three arbitrators on a panel and they must agree as to what the result will be. However, in family law there is usually only one arbitrator. This arbitrator or Family Law Attorney in Houston, TX understands all the laws relating to family issues, including divorce, child support and custody.

Do The Parties Have An Attorney Present?

Collaboration is designed as early intervention and as an alternative to litigation. Each party has his/her own attorney present and before the process begins, each party agrees to compromise in reaching an agreement on the issues in controversy. Collaborative law is a process and usually requires several sessions before resolution. During these sessions, Texas Family Law Lawyers from both parties sit down to discuss the issues at hand.

Why Did You Add Alternative Dispute Resolution To Your Practice?

Lawyers feel like they are not going to make enough money if the case is arbitrated or mediated to settlement early. I became interested in mediation and arbitration when I was in law school. After law school, I mediated many New York Stock Exchange cases and U.S. Post Office cases. I saw the benefit to the clients of getting the issue resolved early rather than going to trial which can be so expensive. You don’t get what you want at a trial because you never know what a judge is going to do. They can come up with ways of settling things that even a very experienced attorney would never have thought of. I always believe it is better not to go to trial because the client is taking a big risk.

What Are The Benefits Of Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods Over Litigation?

Alternative dispute resolution methods are usually less expensive and faster. Experienced Harris County Family Law Lawyers can help you with dispute resolution.

What Are The Drawbacks Associated With Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods?

The biggest drawback associated with alternative dispute resolution methods is that no one is extremely happy. In a good mediation, neither party is happy, but they are okay with the outcome. They say, “Okay, I’ll accept that.” However, they usually do not say, “Alright! I got everything I wanted!”

Can Every Aspect Of a Family Law Case Be Mediated?

Usually division of property and child custody and child support can be mediated in family law. The standard for determining the outcome of a case involving a child is WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Not, what is in the best interest of the mom or dad. However, if an agreement is not reached during mediation, the children will be sent to experts in the fields of custody and mental health. Sometimes the parents are ordered by the judge to see a professional also. That is a lot of stress for the child as well as the parents. l see cases where the child(ren) are pulled between the parents. No one wins in these cases.

Who Is Mediation Best Suited For?

Mediation is best suited for people who do not want a big trial. If they are willing to look at what is in the best interest of the child then that is a great case to mediate. Make sure you talk to a Mediation in Family Law Cases Attorney in Houston, TX in such a case.

What Is Your Role In The Mediation Process For The Cases That You Handle?

First of all, the mediator goes over the ground rules of a mediation. Secondly, the lawyers will get to state what their client wants and then usually the parties split up. My client and I will be in one room and the opposing party and his or her attorney will be in another room. As the attorney for a client, it is my job to inform my client of the law. For example, I would advise my client that he or she cannot withhold visitation rights even though the other party is not paying his/her child support. The mediator goes back and forth talking to the parties, attempting to help them reach an agreement. The mediator cannot tell one party the thoughts or strategies of the other party unless there is permission for the mediator to do so. In a family law case, everything is determined at the same session. You cannot divide the assets and say we will come back later to figure out child support. In family law, everything must be resolved before the divorce is granted. That is why it is important to hire a Harris County Mediation in Family Law Cases Attorney at the very beginning.

What Generally Takes Place In A Typical Mediation Case?

The process in a typical mediation case is that the mediator talks to both parties and tells them the ground rules and what the plan is. Then each attorney tells the mediator what outcome each client wants. Then the attorneys and their parties separate. After moving into separate rooms, my client and I will never hear what the opposing party and his or her attorney is thinking or talking about or their strategy unless that party decides to tell the mediator what they are going to do or vice versa. Sometimes this take a couple of hours, but often the process can take 8 to 10 hours. Hopefully, a long session will result in an agreement that you can take to the judge.

For more information on Mediation In Family Law Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (281) 845-9330 today. Our Family Law Attorney in Houston, TX will be happy to help you out.

Rhonda S. Ross, Esq.

Call Now For A Consultation
(281) 845-9330