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The Carlson Law Firm offers mediation services by local family and criminal law attorney, Steve Walden.
Steve has over 20 years’ experience actively litigating military, criminal, and family law cases. In addition, his qualified mediation skills are invaluable to anyone in need of a fair resolution to a complex legal matter.
He is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Among his many affiliations are the State Bar of Texas, Bell County Bar Association (past president), and the Fort Hood Bar Association. Before his practice with The Carlson Law Firm, he was a commissioned officer in the US Army and U.S. Army Judge Advocate.
Steve offers mediation services in all of his practice areas. With his experience and expertise in family law, he can assist with reaching a peaceful resolution in litigation matters. Further, he ensures all parties’ thoughts and concerns are heard, even when the parties cannot articulate those thoughts themselves.
Is mediation right for you?
When parties are unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute, one good option is to turn to mediation. Mediation is generally a short-term, structured, task-oriented, and “hands-on” process.
Mediation is usually a voluntary process, although sometimes statutes, rules, or court orders may require participation in mediation. Mediation is common in small claims courts, family courts, and some criminal court programs.
The mediator has an equal and balanced responsibility to assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of any one party. The mediator’s job is to help the disputants evaluate their goals and options and find their own mutually satisfactory solution.
What is mediation and what are its benefits?
Mediation is a process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication and negotiation to help parties in disagreement find an agreeable resolution. A mediator eases the process by helping both parties communicate clearly and effectively, by focusing on positive rather than negative emotions. This process leads to more informed, satisfying, and lasting resolutions. In addition to resolving a dispute, the individuals in conflict have the chance to overcome misunderstandings and misperceptions to help them restore trust and respect.
Mediation provides an opportunity for parties to exert personal control over the outcome of a dispute. During mediation, the parties can make decisions together based on an understanding of their views, the other’s opinions and the situation they face.
“Mediation is an alternative to letting a judge who doesn’t know or understand the complete story between conflicting parties decide their fate,” Carlson Law Firm partner and mediator Steve Walden said. “Instead, the two people who know all of the details of their specific situation can negotiate and come to an agreement that works best for them.”
In addition to walking away with a mutual resolution, mediation also teaches or strengthens valuable conflict resolution skills that the parties can apply in future disputes.
Furthermore, the process of mediation will often leave less strain in your wallet. For example, an improperly handled divorce process may turn into a drawn-out battle. This doesn’t just affect both parties financially, but can also add to the emotional turmoil and damage of everyone involved, including children. To avoid extended court battles and costly fees, working things out between parties is key.
What does the mediation process look like?
You might be surprised to learn that the mediation process is carried out over a number of steps. Mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. Yes, it is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but not as informal as you’d think. Most mediations go as follows:
- Stage 1- Mediator’s opening statements. Once all parties are present the mediator makes his or her introductions. The mediator then explains the goals and rules of the mediation and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward an agreement. The opening statement during the introductory remarks will set out the ground rules for the mediation.
- Stage 2- Disputants’ opening statements. After the opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted. Each party is invited to describe, in his or her own words, what the dispute is about and how he or she has been affected by it, and to present some general ideas about resolving it. While one person is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.
- Stage 3- Joint discussion. The mediator will then ask both parties open-ended questions to get to those involved taking directly about what was said in opening statements.
- Stage 4- Private caucuses. At this stage, both parties are given the opportunity to meet privately with the mediator to discuss their position and possible resolutions. The mediator may caucus with each side just once, or several times, as needed.
- Stage 5- Joint negotiation. After caucuses, the mediator may bring the parties back together to negotiate directly. Methods for developing resolution may include group processes, discussion groups subgroups, developing hypothetical plausible scenarios, or a mediators proposal where the mediator puts a proposal on the table and the parties take turns modifying it.
- Stage 6- Closure. If an agreement has been reached, the mediator may put its main provisions in writing as the parties listen. If no agreement was reached, the mediator will review whatever progress has been made and advise everyone of their options, which include meeting again later, going to arbitration, or going to court.
How should I prepare for mediation?
You need to prepare thoughtfully and carefully to come to an agreement that you are satisfied with during your mediation process. As with many aspects of life, your level of preparation is closely tied to your rate of success. Things you can do to prepare for your mediation include the following:
Understand the role of your mediator:
Mediation differs from other resolution processes. It’s important that you understand the role of the mediator, which is not to make a decision about your case or dispute. Instead, the mediator’s role is to facilitate the negotiations.
Identify all possible solutions in advance:
You usually know the outcome that you wish to achieve prior to mediation, however taking a fixed position can sometimes reduce your chances of resolving the matter at hand, as it restricts your ability to be flexible in finding other possible ways to end your dispute. Before mediation, you should go over all possible resolutions, taking into consideration the anticipated positions of the adverse party. Try to come with an open mind to negotiation.
Arrive well-rested, and relaxed:
The mediation process, while designed to ease the common stresses of other court proceedings, can still be and emotional and stressful event. It’s important to take care of yourself leading up to your scheduled appointment. Make sure you’re rested, comfortable and hydrated. People tend to underestimate how draining negotiations can be, and how likely people are to commit to resolutions they aren’t comfortable with if they are tired, hungry or thirsty. Mediation can also be an emotional experience so try your best to anticipate how you might react to things that are likely to come up during the mediation process. Don’t forget, you are able to ask the mediator for breaks should you become overwhelmed at any stage.
Be ready to make the first offer:
Research shows that the party making the first offer in a negotiation tends to be happier with the final settlement. This is because of what is known as ‘anchoring,’ where the first offer helps define the range of the negotiation to follow.
Scheduling mediation with Steve Walden
When you are going through a stressful life-changing event, you want the support of someone who is compassionate, thorough, fair and neutral. Steve Walden can offer clearheaded alternatives and be your aid in finding common ground.
“As an attorney who has heard hundreds of unique stories and presented those stories to judges and juries, I understand that is there is never a ‘one-size fits all’ resolution,” Steve said. “This experience makes me an effective mediator because I can look at both sides of a story and find all possible alternatives and solutions to help the parties find a mutually beneficial agreement.”
Let Steve Walden facilitate communication and negotiation to help you find a solution to help you heal and move forward without the stressful court battles. He can conduct mediation at a location selected by the parties or at his office in Killeen, Texas located at 100 E Central Texas Expy. The mediation service fee is $100 per hour, per side. Take the first step towards a peaceful resolution and schedule your mediation today.