Thomas P. Carnes
(830) 997-7790 968 Braeutigam Road
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

Thomas P. Carnes, A Civil Trial Lawyer Serving the Texas Hill Country
Practice Areas

Family Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution & Collaborative Divorce

Tom Carnes is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer in addition to being an experienced trial lawyer. This diverse experience provides skills and insight that can only benefit the client no matter what the setting.

In Texas, mediation has become a way of life in almost all mediation context. Courts have become challenged to keep up with their dockets. In the eyes of most Judges, most family law cases should be settled rather than tried. It is the policy of most courts to Order mediation prior to trial. More and more Courts are Ordering mediation even as a condition precedent to a temporary orders hearing, except in an emergency.

So what does this mean for the family law client? It means one of two things. The family law client can go into mediation convinced that it will not work, and ensure that it does not, in fact, work. Alternatively, the client can approach mediation with all of the seriousness of trial, and with a negotiating spirit, focusing on each party's interests rather than 'winning' or posturing. If both clients approach mediation in this matter, it will likely be successful.

So what is mediation? It is a formal negotiation with a neutral professional’s assistance. Mediators have different styles, but they will often spend much of a day-long with each side, independently. There may or may not be joint sessions with the other party and his or her attorney.

At the end of the day, if the day is successful, you will leave mediation with a mediated settlement agreement (“MSA”). The MSA may resolve some or all issues present in the family law case. What is important to know and understand that the MSA is final and binding – once agreed-to consent may not be revoked accept under very narrow circumstances rarely present, such as fraud in the mediation itself.

So why resolve cases through mediation? One reason is, of course, that you have to go and you might as well go with an approach reasonably calculated to succeed. But more than that, as with any voluntary agreement, an MSA gives the parties more flexibility than does an Order coming from a contested hearing. Agreements are reached every day in which the terms make good sense for both parties, but would not have been terms that a court would have been free to Order under the Family Code. Who knows better what is right for you, and your children, than you and your spouse, a judge? Think again. Mediation often leads to outcomes that could not have been achieved through a contested trial, and are acceptable to the parties themselves or they presumably would not have agreed.

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