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Free mediation services help resolve local legal disputes

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas -- Unless you were taught how to identify, address, and resolve conflict, you may not have the necessary skills to resolve a dispute on your own. The Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center, or DRC, offers free mediation services to the public in cases involving a wide range of legal issues.
Divorce, child support, consumer, real estate, auto repair, neighbor complaints, and landlord-tenant issues are just a few of the types of disputes resolved by the DRC on a daily basis.

Mediation enables you to participate in the problem-solving process, discuss your feelings about the dispute, and have the other party listen. Finally, through your participation in the process, you acquire skills to resolve your own disputes in the future.
So how does mediation actually work?

Both people involved in a dispute arrive at the mediator's office with a commitment to try to resolve their issue. The parties may be asked to discuss the issues in the same room, but may request that they be separated in different rooms as well. If that's the case, the mediator will go back and forth between the two rooms to discuss the issues with each party individually. The mediator represents neither side, but acts as a neutral third party.

Some mediators are lawyers, but some are not. Regardless, all DRC mediators are required to take at least 40 hours of basic mediation training. The mediator's primary job is to facilitate an agreement that is acceptable to both sides. He or she does this by listening, restating important points, and offering suggestions and observations about the arguments made by both parties.

A mediator, because of his or her impartiality, can often recommend solutions to problems that neither party was able to suggest beforehand. Assuming that you are successful in settling your dispute, a written agreement is prepared by the mediator before you leave the mediation site.

The only information that can later be disclosed to a court is that your case was or was not settled in mediation because the information disclosed and the offers of settlement made in mediation are completely confidential.

Trial is always an option, but it's risky and expensive. There's no risk in mediating a dispute and it's free through the DRC. You'll need the agreement of both parties in order to mediate, so if one party is unwilling to participate mediation is not an option. However, a judge will likely order mediation once a lawsuit is filed.

The Bexar County DRC offers its in-take and mediation services in the evening hours, and has Spanish-speaking mediators if needed. If you are interested in free mediation services, you can visit the DRC website at http://www.bexar.org/drc and download an application for services at http://www.bexar.org/drc/Pre-Intake090428.pdf.

If you'd like general information about the mediation process, or would like a copy of the applicable Texas statutes, please schedule an appointment to meet with a legal assistance attorney at the 802nd Mission Support Group/Judge Advocate's office by calling 210-671-3362.