In this final installment of our series on the Texas family mediation case In re Lee, we’ll examine the implications of the holding upon parents, judges and mediators. To recap, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in In re Le that a trial court judge must enter a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) two parents had made arranging custody for their child, even though the judge believed the MSA was not in the child’s best interests. So what does the ruling mean for the different stakeholders in family mediation? Read the rest of this entry »
With foreclosure dispute resolution programs proliferating around the country, the natural question to ask is, “Do they work?” That’s what former RSI staff member Heather Scheiwe Kulp and I set out to determine. The answer, as discussed in our article, “Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Programs: Do They Work?” (Probate and Property, November/December 2013), is that some do and some don’t. Some are achieving what they set out to achieve, at least to some extent. Others aren’t. What the programs want to achieve varies, though with much overlap. Goals include keeping homeowners in their homes, helping homeowners and lenders come to mutually agreeable resolution, improving judicial efficiency, and so on. Read the rest of this entry »
For the second part of this series on the family court mediation case In re Lee, I’ll examine the laws at issue in the case, then discuss the legal reasoning and policy that the Texas Supreme Court majority and dissent each followed in making their decisions. The crucial statute in the case was Texas Family Code Chapter 153, which relates to custody. Two sections of that code came into conflict in the case.
Best Interest of Child (§153.002) says the best interest of the child should always be the court’s primary consideration in custody issues.
Alternate Dispute Resolution Procedures (§153.0071) includes rules for mediation. Several parts of this section were relevant to Lee’s case. Read the rest of this entry »
The award is presented to individuals whose cumulative activities have substantially and meaningfully furthered and enhanced court ADR systems in Illinois. For 2013, we honored Professor Dutenhaver with a plaque that reads as follows:
“Professor Dutenhaver is a pioneer in the ADR field. She began teaching mediation to law students in 1986 and by the next year, her students were mediating small claims cases – some of the first students in the nation to do so. The success of this program led Professor Dutenhaver to co-found the Center for Dispute Resolution at DePaul University. Other Chicago law schools have followed in her footsteps by offering such opportunities to students. Read the rest of this entry »
The mediation policy and ethics questions encountered in the recent Texas Supreme Court decision In re Lee are enough to fill several blog posts. Over the next few posts, we’ll look at the many policy implications of this remarkable decision. Topics discussed will include:
- Should the finality of a mediated agreement trump changes for the child’s best interest?
- In custody policy, do mediation and arbitration differ?
- When there’s been no intimate partner violence, should settlements be irrevocable?
- Who decides potential endangerment to a child?
- What can judges do when parents in mediation act against their child’s interest?
- When a mediated agreement sets rules over non-parties, what governs their enforcement?