Saturday, April 25, 2015

How to choose a family law mediator for your case

Anyone that completes the basic mediation training can call themselves a "certified" mediator because they received a piece of paper at the end of the 40 hour training.

Think about when you were a kid and learned to ride a bike. At first you were wobbly and unsure. But the more you rode the bike the better you got. Eventually you might have learned to do a few tricks and to ride the bike without even holding the handle bars. I bet if you don't ride a bike for 20 years and you decide to try again that you won't be very good and it will take some more time to improve your skills.

Mediation is a lot like riding a bike.

Do you want someone that just learned to mediate or someone that takes classes on a regular basis to improve their skills?

I find that there are very few family law attorneys in Texas that take yearly advanced mediation training. That said, one of the best mediators I know is not an attorney - he is a retired professional with more common sense that a bus full of lawyers.  But then I see him at all the mediation trainings that I go to throughout the year.

I would look for someone that belongs to mediation groups such as:

1. Texas Association of Mediators - they hold an annual 2 day conference each year on mediation.

2. Texas Mediator Credentialing Association - the ONLY credentialing group in Texas. In order to join you must fulfill a variety of requirements. They hold an annual one day conference each fall in Austin.

3. Association for Conflict Resolution - National & local chapters - Houston has a chapter. This group holds many advanced mediation trainings and events for mediators throughout the year. It only costs $35/year to belong. Most of their events are inexpensive.

4. Association of Attorney-Mediators - This group requires that an applicant submit 3 letters of recommendations as well as meet certain standards. It is a national group.

I belong to all of these groups plus some others.

For 2015 State Bar of Texas Continuing Legal Education hours I have over 110 as of 4/25/2015. The State Bar of Texas requires that I do only 15 hours per year -- as you can see I far exceed the minimum requirements.  My CLE is 50% family law and 50% mediation. I also teach part of the family law mediation training for the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center & Dr. Barbara Manousso's family law mediation training.

I am a member of the Texas Bar College because I take so many CLE hours each year.

My additional training has me constantly improving my skills. Several Harris County judges appoint me on a regular basis to handle their "difficult" family law cases because of my advanced training in domestic violence. I can handle domestic violence cases because I make special arrangements so that the parties never interact with each other. Both parties must be in a safe and secure environment.

So if your family is going through a difficult period, please select the mediator carefully.
Each mediator has slightly different styles.

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