Start MediationOnline Via Zoom

All Posts by Fran Brochstein, J. D.

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4u.com at Fran@Familylaw4u.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need”.

Mick Jagger

This song lyric reminds me of the importance of encouraging people to negotiate at mediation.  Mediators need to encourage the parties to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to their ongoing disputes. 

Over the years, I’ve developed the habit of asking parties, “Can you live with the agreements we have reached today?” I never ask parties if they are happy with the results. Generally, in family mediation neither party is “happy” with the outcome.  I like to remind people that stoning or flogging the other party into agreement is not allowed under our laws. 

At the beginning of my mediations, I usually let parties know that if they both hate me at the end of the mediation, then I did a good job. I also warn parties that mediation is exhausting and difficult since we discuss all the items that the parties could not agree to prior to mediation. I tell both parties that I will not force anyone to settle a dispute. I like to warn parties that I don’t have any magic fairy dust to make the other person be reasonable. 

Sometimes when negotiating at mediation, a party expresses their fears and concerns. I often let people know that they can express their fears to me at mediation, but in court the judge will just want to hear the facts. I find that by exploring and discussing their fears, mediation parties gradually begin to think clearer and begin to consider other possible options. 

At the end of the mediation process, whether we reached settlement or not, I thank the parties for participating. If an impasse was reached, I encourage the parties to continue to negotiate and try to continue finding ways to avoid “going to the judge.”

Over the years, I have found that many cases settle a few days after the mediation ends. People go home, think about their disputes, talk to someone they trust and/or decide that they just want their case over. The negotiations continue into their private time.

At the beginning of my mediations I assure both parties, “I  don’t have a horse in this race,” or “a dog in this hunt.” I like to mention I am a trained professional who has mediated for many years, and that my role is to be an impartial facilitator of their discussion.  I assure them that THEY are the decision makers, and that after an impasse it is usually a judge who will make all decisions. Since it’s family law, to connect with parties, I also point out that I’m on my 3rd marriage and I now co-grandparent with my ex. My elevator speech has become, “people come to me in knots and I untangle them.” I’m now considering changing it to, “I’m old & I know things.” 

With February being the month of love,  I wish everyone who reads this column a wonderful, fun, joyful Valentines. Appreciate and embrace all the positive things in your life. Don’t forget to give your loved ones a big hug – in person or virtual.

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4u.com at Fran@Familylaw4u.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

What it used to be like before the pandemic and how I got on the right track.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago I had never used Zoom. Then Mac-Arthur Pierre-Louis called me about InstantMediations and Zoom. I had never really considered Zoom until his call. He showed true patience in training me to use Zoom to mediate. And truthfully it was scary at first.

I had to give up some of my good practices I had developed when mediating in person. For example, while in person, I would allow third parties to stay in the room if I felt they were the decision maker or could help me negotiate. I know there are many mediators who do not share my view on third parties, but I’ve found third parties can make or break a mediation. Also, when mediating in person there were times in a case when the attorneys would meet in the kitchen or hallway and begin to hammer out a settlement, or I would bump into an attorney in the hallway and we would chat informally about the issues. Finally, mediating in person allowed parties to come to my office and stand on neutral territory. And meeting in my office allowed everyone to be fed with snacks, which encouraged them to relax. All these things cannot be done so easily via Zoom mediations, or else I’ve had to think up “virtual” solutions to compensate. For the most part though, it has worked out. Zoom mediations are not absolutely good or absolutely bad when compared to in-person mediations; they are just different.

The beginnings were not easy.

It was all so scary at the beginning! Yet I convinced some girlfriends of mine to practice online mediation with me. Those initial Zoom practice meetings were frustratingly funny in hindsight.

I went through the “technical glitches” with Zoom as I learned the platform. Overall Zoom works pretty good. And I’ve learned lots of tricks to make the Zoom mediation run more effectively. For example, I find myself mouthing, “unmute,” or lifting my hand to my ear to get someone to unmute themselves. Who would have ever imagined that such motions would be part of 21st century mediation practice.  I’m still struggling a bit with quickly getting mediated settlement agreement signed, but I have made progress in this area too. Lastly, I recall the internet connection issues I experienced when trying to get online. I eventually hard-wired my computer to my internet modem, and I even upgraded my internet speed.

How it is now and the benefits of Zoom.

Now I use Zoom regularly. I believe that Zoom will continue to be used even after the current health crisis is over. I know that some family law attorneys really like Zoom because they don’t have to travel up to an hour to and from the mediator’s office. I have also heard that attorneys hope uncontested hearings or finalizing uncontested cases can continue via Zoom. In Houston, when I had to appear in court as an attorney, I often spent 2 hours or more driving to the courthouse, parking, going through metal detectors, waiting on an elevator, and then waiting to approach the bench for a simple 3-minute hearing. Now all of that can be done from the office or home.

I like Zoom because it has reduced my overhead. I have no office rent and do not have to provide snacks and drinks to participants. I can wear a nice top, but do not need to spend a small fortune to beautify the rest of me.

Another advantage of Zoom mediations is that if the parties request it I can break up my usual 4 hour mediation sessions into shorter sessions. I try to avoid mediating over 6 hours because of mediation fatigue. I don’t want people to just be so worn out that they will agree to settle just to escape from the mediation. Note: I have done several mediations in person that went up to 12 hours, but everyone wanted to continue. I’ve discovered most cases longer than 8 hours usually settle.

On the negative side, I do find that Zoom mediations can be somewhat tiring on my part and I don’t always feel like the participants are fully engaged. I have trouble reading their subtle body language. And oftentimes, attorneys sometimes are still in litigation mode and not settlement mode. And occasionally there is the problem of third parties lurking off screen listening in to the conversation.

What the future may bring.

I have heard from several family law attorneys in Texas that their divorce business is booming. I guess that when people had to stay home with their family members and were not able to continue with normal routines, that it increased the stress in their relationships. I have heard on the news that domestic violence has been higher since everyone has had to stay home.

I do hope lots of it can be solved using online mediation.

I know that we are all looking forward to going back to “normal.” I’m not sure how that will actually look in 2021, but I feel confident that Zoom is here to stay.

Happy New Year and may all these video-conferencing tools like Zoom continue to help us for good to do good.

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4u.com at Fran@Familylaw4u.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

Communicate Effectively with Parties

I don’t take a person yelling and making demands personally. I don’t focus on the exact words they use, but instead focus on the overall emotion they project. Oftentimes, after a mediation has concluded, parties apologize to me about the things they had said, or for their screaming and cussing. I usually assure them that I understand their pain and emotion, and that I don’t take it personally. If you as a mediator cannot build a Teflon wall around yourself, and let parties’ comments bounce off of you, then you won’t do well in family law mediations. You must learn not to react negatively to inappropriate comments by parties.

I once had an attorney tell me not to speak directly to his client. Instead of arguing, I said ok. I then asked the attorney lots of open ended questions regarding his client’s positions, and within minutes, his client was chiming in, wanting to speak. So I encourage mediators to ask lots of open ended questions so that parties can have the opportunity to broadly describe what their goals are and what they want accomplished.

Sometimes, to fully understand a party’s position, I have found it helpful to ask them to define the words they use, or have them explain what meaning certain words hold for them. For example, when someone in Texas says that they want “full custody,” I have to ask them to explain how they define this term. Because in Texas, we don’t use the term “full custody” in family law. It’s usually joint or sole managing conservatorship, which may differ from what the person using “full custody” actually thinks. Because there can be misunderstandings in ambiguous language, it’s helpful to communicate terms accurately, and have parties confirm their understanding of certain words.

I have learned to ask potentially volatile questions in a passive, non-threatening, and non-accusatory way. I usually preface tough questions with something like, “I am going to ask you something that could upset you, but I am not accusing you of anything, so just listen to my question, and recognize that I’m not saying you did this, and know I’m not trying to intimidate you.” I find that asking a volatile question in a non-threatening way means it will usually be well received. Many times the person responding starts to laugh and says, “I knew the other party was going to bring that up.”

Listen to Parties

Most people are not happy when they come to see a mediator. There is conflict, sometimes a very deep one. Usually at least one party feels wronged, and they want justice. They want to be heard. They want to feel that someone believes them. So listening becomes one of the most important things a mediator can do. I let parties talk, vent, and explain themselves. I only usually stop a mediation party while they are on their soapbox when they begin to repeat the same thing, or when time becomes an issue. 

Commend Parties

Commending parties when they rise above the challenges they face with their opposition is a great way to build rapport. When I am dealing with a couple that puts their kids first and truly try to co-parent, I let them know that they are in the top 10% of people I deal with who do co-parenting differently. I let them know that there will be bumps in the road, but if they both always put their kids first and the adult needs-and-wants second, then their kids will thrive. I once had a man burst into tears when I told him that he was a “good dad,”  because no one had ever said anything positive to him before. I now try to commend parents when they are trying to do the right thing. I don’t stop there, I often ask one party how I should approach the other party, or in what ways I can reach the other side. Many times the person will give me some wonderful ideas that truly help me communicate effectively with their opponent. Commending parties builds trust and helps facilitate resolutions to major disagreements.

I love mediating. First, it makes me appreciate my family. Second, it’s like a roller coaster ride – you never know what is around the next corner. It reminds me of that television show Kids say the Darndest Things – at mediation often people say the darndest things, and we should be ready to listen and respond.

Wrapping Up

In closing, I wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season. May you and your family have the gift of much laughter and joy. I hope everyone is able to relax and enjoy the end to 2020. And may the new year bring us all good health, happiness, prosperity, abundance, and only good surprises in 2021. 

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4u.com at Fran@Familylaw4you.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

Control and Protect the Mediation Process

I had an interesting call recently. A gentleman was referred to me by another InstantMediations.com mediator. He basically told me what he wanted – a 5-minute mediation since he knew that they would never resolve their differences. I explained that it takes at least an hour for both sides to tell me “their story”. I informed him that I always allocate at least 4 hours for a mediation. I also told him that I had a very good success rate with people who swore that their case would never settle. When he realized that he could not dictate to me exactly how the mediation would work, he went elsewhere.

This conversation reminded me of the importance of being in control of the mediation process. You, as the mediator, are the boss. When I first started mediating, I was scared to hurt anyone’s feelings or sound authoritative, but now I just jump in and see where we go. I now assume that no one is ever going to tell me the whole truth or their true bottom line. I have learned that none of this matters as a mediator.

If you are new mediator, just jump in and get your feet wet. You will gradually develop your own style, your confidence will grow, and mediation will become less stressful for you. It will also become more fun. I encourage you to take advanced mediation training. I’ve been mediating over 15 years and I still take at least 15 hours a year in advanced mediation training.

General Tips

Don’t be shy to use your life experiences to help connect with parties. Even though I’ve been mediating for quite a while, because of my life experiences, I tell people that I’m a slow learner and that I’ve made every mistake they have made and probably more. I also let them know that I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and that I was a staff attorney at Houston Volunteer Lawyers for years.

When doing family law mediations, I remind parties that each family is different. Many mediations are similar, but I’ve never had the exact same mediation twice. Comfort parties to know that their issues are resolvable in a customized way.

I do not go forward without the parties signing my Agreement to Mediate. If they refuse to sign it, then the mediation stops. I’ve only had this happen a couple of times.

Tips for When Commencing the Mediation

I try to begin the mediation with some items that I think the parties can agree on. Then I move onto the harder topics. I always offer to do a partial mediated settlement agreement so that the parties only have a few items to bring before the judge if court is absolutely necessary. I think judges appreciate cases with limited issues, and it tends to save the parties money. Why waste a judge’s time if there is no disagreement on certain topics.

I usually start my family mediations saying that today will be a very hard day. We are going to do a lot of unpleasant work. I am probably going to shine a light into the dark corners of their lives. I warn them that I am a clean slate and I don’t know either party. And even if I know their lawyer, I am still an impartial trained professional. I make sure they understand that they will be the decision makers and I don’t twist their arms or make them settle. I also tell them that at the end of the day they will be exhausted and they will need to either just go for a walk, go to sleep, or perhaps enjoy an adult beverage. I let them know that a hard day at mediation is always better than an unnecessary and expensive day in court.

During the mediation, if someone seems stressed or upset, I will ask them if they want to proceed. I often allow people to take a brief break to center themselves and come back refreshed. I had one mediation where a man learned at the mediation that his youngest child was not his biological child. He began to cry so hard that I stopped the mediation and re-scheduled it. His attorney wanted to proceed, but there was no way that a man who could not talk or breath due to sobbing could make a rational decision.

Another time, I once had an attorney assure me that the case was going to settle. But his client was standing beside him with her arms crossed, shaking her head. I finally said to him that he needed to talk to his client because her body language clearly said she was not settling today. We re-scheduled the mediation for a later date and it settled then. The client appreciated that I did not rush or force her to engage in a settlement negotiation during the first session.

As the holidays approach, I find that many parties take the holidays very seriously. I always ask if their family celebrates Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I discover some families go to church on New Year’s Eve. Some families have unique holiday traditions I’m familiar with. Some families have reunions that can often cause a lot of emotional pain. I encourage mediation parties to be flexible regarding family celebrations. For example, I like to remind parents in custody mediations that I’ve never heard a child complain about having 2 Christmas celebrations!

If you have any suggestions for future columns, I ask you to contact me at fran@familylaw4u.com.

In closing, as we near the end of a very interesting and challenging 2020, I wish for us all fun, laughter, joy and peace in the upcoming holiday season.

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4u.com at Fran@Familylaw4you.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

***October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (#DomesticViolenceAwareness). If you are a victim of domestic violence, please call The National Domestic Violence hotline now.***

The Major Problem of Domestic Violence in Mediations

In July 2020, I gave a Zoom talk to the Texas Association of Mediators on mediation and domestic violence (if you are a member of TAM, our monthly Zoom talks are included in your membership www.txmediator.org). I’m passionate about this topic because if not handled correctly, mediators can fail to help protect abuse victims when those victims show up at mediation sessions with their abusers.

First the numbers. Although there has been progress in acknowledging domestic violence exists, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.  

I never set out to handle domestic violence mediations. In my early mediation days I sometimes stumbled into mediations involving violence when a party admitted that it occurred. Or, I discovered the violence by noticing an abused person was showing signs of physical or emotional trauma. Oftentimes, parties or their attorneys never told me there was a protective order in place, leaving me to discover in the middle of a mediation that special precautions were necessary to ensure the safety of all participants. So I learned early on to ask about domestic violence and protective orders when I scheduled mediations.

I recognize today that many family law mediations begin with a joint session. But since I had several mediations where there was a protective order in place and no one warned me, I started putting the parties in separate rooms upon their arrival. I then asked each party if he or she felt comfortable to be in the same room with the other party. I cannot tell you how many times both men and women have expressed fear of being in the presence of the other party.

Address the Issue Right Away

If an attorney tells me of possible domestic violence, or I learn of it myself, I ask for permission to call their client to discuss their fears/concerns about appearing at mediation. I ask what I can do to make them feel safe. I usually let parties know they can take time to think about what they need and to call me back within 48 hours with their requests. By addressing their safety concerns up front, I believe I build credibility and trust before the mediation begins.

For example, a wife’s attorney warned me that her client was terrified of her professional boxer husband. I asked the attorney if I could call the wife and discuss how to make her feel safe at the mediation. The wife and I came up with several ideas: borrow a friend’s vehicle, wear a big floppy hat so that husband would not recognize her, and wait in her vehicle across the street so that she could observe husband arrive first to my office. After her husband was at my office, the wife would call me so I could watch her walk to my office. In this specific case, I made arrangements to use additional mediation space in a nearby office so that there was no way for the parties to ever see each other. At the end of the mediation session, I had her leave 15 minutes before him to help protect her safety. By addressing her concerns, this party was able to relax and feel “heard” at our mediation. We were able to resolve all issues in 2 sessions by shuttling between two offices. The entire time, the husband had no idea where his wife was physically located. I will note that the husband denied ever hitting his wife. But whether he did or not was irrelevant. The wife had expressed fear to me, and my addressing her concerns gained me credibility in her eyes, which helped facilitate an effective mediation.

Believe it or not, people don’t know if they are really in an abusive relationship because they’re used to their partner calling them crazy or making them feel like all the problems are their fault. For example, as an attorney, I once represented a successful woman in her divorce. My gut told me she was a victim of domestic violence. She denied it repeatedly. Toward the end of her case, when she felt comfortable, she admitted to me that her husband had used a door and other objects to hit her, but that since he never physically “touched” her, she did not consider it domestic violence. She was so embarrassed that she compartmentalized the abuse.

A Persistent Problem

Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and it affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality.  For example, I once was at a cocktail party in The Woodlands, Texas, a community with higher than average household incomes. A man learned that I was a family law attorney and somehow the subject of domestic violence came up. He said that there was no domestic violence in the Woodlands. I replied that unfortunately there was domestic violence in The Woodlands, but that the women could afford better make-up to hide the marks. He ended our conversation very quickly.

Men can be the victim of domestic violence too. For example, I once did a divorce mediation that successfully settled. At the end of our session, both attorneys and the wife left. The husband stayed behind and if he could remain with me for a while. He admitted that he was terrified of his wife and that she was sitting in her vehicle outside. He was afraid that she would either shoot him or run him over. I checked, yep, she was in her vehicle parked in a way that she could easily run him over before he reached his vehicle. She did not leave for over 45 minutes. When she arrived home, their son called his father and told him it was safe for him to leave.

Domestic violence is serious and letting it play a negative role in your parties’ mediation can be harmful. Ask the right questions and make sure you obtain all the necessary information you need to help protect parties.

Tips When Dealing With Dealing with Domestic Violence

Learn more at https://www.thehotline.org/

People who are in an abusive relationship will stay with their partner for a number of reasons:

  1. Their self-esteem is totally destroyed, and they are made to feel they will never be able to find another person to be with.
  2. The cycle of abuse, meaning the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner really is sorry and does love them.
  3. It’s dangerous to leave. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.
  4. Statistics suggest that almost 5 percent of male homicide victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
  5. They feel personally responsible for their partner’s, or their own behavior. They are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is their fault.
  6. They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets, and finances are big reasons victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.

Here are a few ways to know if you’re in an abusive relationship that you need to get out of:

  1. Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.
  2. Your partner is possessive. They check up on you constantly wondering where you are; they get mad at you for hanging out with certain people or if you don’t do what they say.
  3. Your partner is jealous. A small amount of jealousy is normal and healthy, however, if they accuse you of being unfaithful or isolate you from family or friends, that means the jealousy has gone too far.
  4. Your partner puts you down. They attack your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities. They blame you for all of their violent outbursts and tell you nobody else will want you if you leave.
  5. Your partner threatens you or your family.
  6. Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If they EVER push, shove, or hit you, or make you have sex with them when you don’t want to, they are abusing you (even if it doesn’t happen all the time).

Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4you.com at Fran@Familylaw4you.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.

1. Make sure the people can stay longer than the anticipated time in case the mediation goes longer than anticipated. 

Story – A modification case was resolved in 3 hours but we needed to write up and sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement. Suddenly both parties started to leave. Their child had an important program at school that evening. Neither party had told their lawyer that they had to leave early in order to drive to attend the event. Warn parties in advance that they should be prepared to remain during the entire length of the mediation process.

2. Whenever possible, get everyone to sign the Mediated Settlement Agreement at the time you meet. 

Story – I did an evening mediation, everyone agreed to the MSA within 2 hours. I needed to write it up, then have the attorneys and their clients review it. Everyone was tired and wanted to go home. So the attorneys authorized me to write up the MSA and email it to them. They promised it would be signed and returned to me before noon the next day. Getting the MSA signed turned into a nightmare and took almost a week with numerous emails and phone calls to the attorneys to get everyone to sign. 

3. Feed people at mediation. When I first began mediating, I bought “healthy” food but no one ate it. So I shifted to “junk” food. I realized that when people are under stress they want “comfort” food. 

Story – I ordered BBQ sandwiches for an evening mediation. One attorney arrived late. He said he did not want the sandwich and seemed very grumpy and argumentative. I left it in the room and went to start with the Petitioner in another room. When I came back into Respondent’s room the mood was completely different. The attorney was a different person. We settled the case quickly. He admitted that his blood sugar had dropped and that the sandwich really helped. That $6 BBQ sandwich was worth every penny! 

4. I often find it helpful to tell the parties that I’ve run out of ideas and solicit their help in coming up with ideas to resolve their case.

Several times I’ve told parties, “I’m about to declare an impasse, but before I do that, what else can I do to help you resolve your issues?” Sometimes cases seem to get settled at that point. When people realize that an impasse is about to be declared, they are finally willing to make a solid settlement offer in an effort to be done with the dispute.

5. I’m often surprised how often the opposing attorneys have not talked to each other.

Many times I take the attorneys outside away from their clients and just ask them where the case is and what is it going to take to resolve the outstanding issues. 

Story – One time I had 2 very aggressive, successful male attorneys. We were stuck. So I took the 2 attorneys out and I just sat back and watched them access each other. When each realized that the other was competent and comfortable with going to trial, one attorney made a reasonable offer, and the case was resolved rather quickly. 

6. I have found it very useful to have a brief meeting with the attorneys alone before even starting the mediation.

I often ask attorneys if there have been any offers made between the parties. Sometimes I ask about the best way to approach their client. I have found these pre-meetings make the mediation go much quicker. 

Many times the attorneys have not talked to each other and this is their chance to talk in an informal atmosphere. They don’t have to “posture” for their clients. Plus, sometimes the attorneys give me a lot of insight into the personality of the parties or what the “real” issues is. 

Sidenote: I’ve unfortunately had to introduce an attorney for the first time to his or her client at mediation. The 2 never interacted before because a paralegal did all the communication. The first time this happened at a mediation I was surprised. After all these years experiencing this I am no longer surprised.


Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4you.com at Fran@Familylaw4you.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.





1. As a mediator, you will never know what it takes to settle a case. And you don’t need to know.





I’ve learned that everyone (attorneys & parties) never tell me their true bottom line. So many times I’ve seen a case settle even though at the beginning of the mediation the person told me that they would never settle if they did not get “xx”. But at the end, the “xx” item gets discarded. So take every offer even if you think it won’t be accepted.  You are there to facilitate discussion but recognize that you never truly know a person’s bottom line.





[...]

read more


Mediator and InstantMediations.com Advisor Fran Brochstein, whose mediation experience spans decades, provides mediation tips to mediators and parties engaged in dispute resolution. She is based in Marble Falls, Texas and can mediate online with parties from anywhere. Contact her through her site Familylaw4you.com at Fran@Familylaw4you.com. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please feel free to contact Fran.





1. When scheduling or running a mediation, don’t be intimidated by a difficult lawyer.





Recently I saw a post on Facebook on an attorney/mediator group about mediating on-line versus in-person during this current Coronavirus health crisis. One of the attorneys insisted that the mediation must be in person only.





[...]

read more