Our attorneys can help you develop a mediation strategy by explaining the procedure, how it works, and what to expect as the process unfolds. Probate mediation takes place in stages, and we can serve as your legal counsel throughout the process. Having over 20 years of expertise in negotiation, mediation, and litigation, we know what it takes to successfully complete a mediation process. The mediation process is divided into three stages and begins with a private meeting via Zoom video conference.
First Stage: General Session
Here, all parties and their counsel meet individually with the mediator. The mediator explains the process and establishes the ground rules during this session. If all parties agree to participate in a general session, each attorney discusses his or her client’s perspective of the case, as well as the legal and factual issues. Clients are urged to talk, but they are not obligated to. The mediator clarifies issues, identifies areas of agreement, and inquires about previous settlement agreements.
Second Stage: Caucus
Following the general session, or in lieu of the general session, the parties separate into conference rooms or (Zoom video conferencing break out rooms) for private discussions called caucuses. These caucuses are kept confidential. Except with the express agreement of the party, everything discussed with the mediator during a caucus cannot be repeated outside of the caucus. This private conference permits counsel to discuss issues that he or she would not want to discuss in front of opposing counsel.
Then, the mediator, the party, and counsel have an open conversation about the risks, the party’s interests to be preserved, settlement flexibility, and the case’s strengths and weaknesses.
The mediator will begin acting as a go-between for the parties at some time throughout the caucus process, relaying settlement offers back and forth.
Third Stage: Closure
Once it appears that a consensus has been established, the mediator then brings the parties back together, figuratively and/or literally. The mediator supports the parties in memorializing the key aspects of the agreement, which each party has signed.
The entire case is kept private and confidential throughout the mediation process. The law forbids the mediator or any other party from disclosing anything discussed during the mediation to the court. At most, the mediator will inform the judge if the case has settled or not. See Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154; Tex. R. Evid. 604.
We want to hear from you. Let our Houston Probate Attorneys help you navigate through the mediation process. Contact us to schedule your FREE consultation.