Mediation - ADR

MEDIATION - Alternate Dispute Resolution



Gary Kollmeier is Board Certified in Family Law and is also a trained mediator, having completed many courses related to ADR, and both the 40 Hour Mediation course required by the Texas Alternate Dispute Resolution Act to take court referred disputes and the Advanced Family Law mediation course.   Gary Kollmeier has conducted more than 30 family law mediations and attending more than 100 has an attorney practitioner representing clients.   This broad training and experience Gary a unique perspective as a family mediator.   As a mediator, Gary can help you and your attorney investigate and explore your interests, discuss and formulate viable and workable options, and work toward a mutual agreement that brings and end to the dispute and provides a framework to solve other potential issues in the future.

The Law Office of Gary Kollmeier provides family law mediation services and collaborative law services, including meeting facilities that promote a pleasant and comfortable dispute resolution experience.   Convenient free parking, handicap accessible facilities, and easy access all promote the opportunity for relaxing the stress involved in resolving complex disputes.

MEDIATION - Alternate Dispute Resolution:

Mediation is a process that allows the parties to control the settlement of their divorce case and resolve all issues as to property and children.    The main benefits include time and cost savings, , the ability to explore creative solutions, confidentiality and privacy, the ability of a party to make decisions that are self-determining, the ability to explore resolution to emotional feelings, the opportunity to help preserve relationships rather than continue to injure, and the ability to avoid negative legal outcomes.   The resolution of a family law conflict involves the restructuring of the relationships of parents/spouse, and the possession and parenting plan for the parents.  When divorcing or separating, one positive effect of mediation is to help the disputing parties shift from the negative form of conflict to the positive form.   The traditional response to conflict is the tendency for litigants to use the paradigms of a win-lose/ right-wrong, and avoidance in their approach to the conflict.  The process of formal mediation helps the parties to make a paradigm shift to a much more positive  approach.   The roots of formal dispute resolution are found in biblical references, and in the United States, as far back as colonial times.

In Texas, mediation can be made to be made fully binding and in effect, a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA), becomes the agreement that will be drafted into the final orders of the case.   Since the agreement is binding, it induces both parties and their attorneys to work hard and in good faith to reach an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement; not having to worry that one side will withdraw their agreement as can be done with the usual settlement process.    An MSA can be enforced by the Court and used to enter final judgment, even if one party changes their mind.

After each party and their attorneys have identified all property and children’s issues and have determined all facts required to intelligently resolve the contested issues, they attend mediation.

At mediation, the parties and attorneys appear at a Mediator’s office. The Mediator is generally agreed to by the parties, with the advice of their attorneys. If, for some reason, the parties and their attorneys cannot agree on a Mediator, the Court will appoint one.
The Mediator in a Family Law case is doubly-trained. They are usually Board Certified in Family Law and are active practicing Family Law Attorneys who are also trained in Mediation. Any mediator selected for a client of Gary Kollmeier will usually be well experienced and appropriate to both the parties needs, and sensitive and experienced in the subject matter being mediated

At mediation you and your attorney are usually in one room and your spouse and their attorneys are in another room, in comfortable surroundings in the Mediator’’s office. The Mediator goes through several rounds (that is, time with your room and time with your spouse’’s room). During these sessions, the Mediator determines what are the unresolved issues between the parties and what can be done to find a middle ground to resolve these disputes.  Some mediators will use joint sessions in which both parties and their attorneys are present to discuss the mediation process and develop common interests and explore viable options.   Whether the mediator utilizes joint or separate sessions will be determined by the circumstances, the party’s preferences, and the mediators style.

Under the Rules of Mediation, everything that is said or considered during mediation is confidential. No one can discuss at Court what went on at mediation, what the offers were, what the demands were or any other details or facts brought out during the mediation. The mediator cannot disclose to the other party, or their attorney, what is said in your room without your express permission. These rules allow a free flow discussion of settlement offers and responses.

In the unlikely event the case does not settle at mediation, then the parties may continue the litigation and ultimately resort to the Courts to make the final decisions.   Many of the cases that do not settle in mediation settle otherwise shortly thereafter because of the progress made in mediation.    In some cases, some issues are resolved at Mediation and then the parties request the Court to decide the remaining matters.


Arbitration is an adjudicatory ADR process different from mediation, in that the parties, in effect, hire a private judge to decide certain issues in their case.   Historically, the Arbitration process has been used in commercial and labor areas.   Recently, Arbitration has been used more frequenting in complex family law cases, especially property disputes.   In Texas, the arbitrator is usually Board Certified in Family Law and/or a former practicing judge with Family Law experience, who is also trained in arbitration techniques and process.   Both sides will present detailed evidence and argument, sometimes utilizing experts, in a formal and traditional adversarial manner.   After presentation of the case the arbiter makes a decision(s), often times called an award, typically set forth in a written opinion.   Arbitration in Family Law cases is still not commonly used because it is usually much more expensive than mediation; however the process can be very helpful and cost effective in complex property characterization issues.


There are other forms of ADR that are available in disputes in Texas, although not used very often in family law disputes.    These include several forms that provide useful information to the parties and their attorneys to use to help in settlement negotiations and mediation.    Sometimes the parties will agree to the use of an independent neutral case evaluation to provide the litigants an opinion on the merits of the case.   A summary jury trial is available to have a independent non-binding trial presided over by a “judge” of sorts, where the parties present an abbreviated from of evidence and narrative argument, to see what the “jury” renders as a verdict.   This process may help parties to in reaching a settlement of the case.   A “Mini-Trial” is usually reserved for large business disputes, and utilizes a neutral expert advisor to help the parties facilitate their own agreement that is mutually beneficial to everyone. 


The conventional process of divorce and other types of suits involving children can drive the parties who are already separated from each other even farther apart. It takes a toll on individual dignity, and often children suffer the most. Collaborative Law presents a more humane, respectful choice. It is a process in which the parties and their counsel agree in writing to make a good faith attempt to reach a mutually-agreeable settlement without court intervention. Working together, they craft a way to dissolve their marriage in a way that considers everyone's needs and minimizes conflict.
Collaborative Law is a process where the husband, wife and both their attorneys agree to resolve all issues in their case without involving a court. They work together, in private, to find a way to meet each individual's needs so that the couple may make a smoother transition from being married to being single. 

Collaborative Law is a solution-oriented alternative to traditional divorce. Instead of focusing on getting the largest financial reward no matter the human or financial cost, the parties try to find "win-win" solutions that meet the needs of both sides.
All participants agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith. No one may go to court, or even threaten to do so, as long as they are in the Collaborative Process. In the unlikely event that a party feels that court is a better alternative, the Collaborative Law process terminates and both spouses must hire new lawyers to take their case to court.
Each professional on the Collaborative Law team owes a primary allegiance and duty to their own clients. But they also know that the way to serve the highest interests of their clients is to act with integrity in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.
While a marriage may be ending, the Collaborative Law process recognizes that relationships and obligations often continue - especially when children are involved. It allows spouses to formulate an agreement that focuses on their most important individual and mutual goals. This process helps all family members move forward in a positive way, rather than dwell on the past.

There are several forms of collaborative law practice and methods.   Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative can be daunting.  At this time, very few family law attorneys have made the commitment to study and learn about this new process.   This is a new area that requires training and new skills to be effective.   Most Collaborative lawyers have joined one or more practice groups, and collaborative legal associations to expand their legal expertise and skill level in this new exciting area of dispute resolution.    Gary Kollmeier is trained in Collaborative Law, and has received many hours of training and has handled numerous collaborative cases.   Gary Kollmeier is a charter member of the Denton County Collaborative Professionals, and a member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, and other national collaborative law associations. 

The Law Office of Gary Kollmeier provides family law mediation services and collaborative law services, including meeting facilities that promote a pleasant and comfortable dispute resolution experience.   Convenient free parking, handicap accessible facilities, and easy access all promote the opportunity for relaxing the stress involved in resolving complex disputes.


It is generally accepted that over ninety percent of all litigated cases eventually settle, whether early on by informal negotiation, or after lengthy and costly litigation.   There are many stages of a dispute that lend themselves to settlement.  Early on when costs are low, later when costs are higher, and even at the eve of or during  trial, when costs may have exploded past all reasonable relationship to the matter being litigated.   Gary Kollmeier believes that since almost all cases eventually settle, an emphasis should be placed upon setting the stage for settlement talks or mediation, rather than focus on always anticipating that there will be an expensive trial.  Very seldom does either party leave a trial satisfied with the result handed down by the Court.  More often, one side (“the loser”) just plans for the next opportunity to litigate the case, preventing any future cooperation between the parties, and working against the best interest of families. 

One process that usually leads to a settlement is the formal process of mediation.    The formal process of mediation allows both sides to aggressively and cost effectively explore interests, options,  and discuss ideas which will bring closure and hopefully prevent further disputes between the parties.  Mediation is almost always more cost effective than informal negotiations using the traditional and protracted process of issuing demands and counteroffers.   The traditional settlement process, especially if attorneys are involved can take considerable time and does not allow for spontaneous communication between the parties, or allow for experimentation of various styles of negotiation and fact discovery during negotiations.    Mediation is also especially useful in multi-party disputes, where interests and goals can be vastly different.

Isn't it better to work toward settling your dispute with professional guidance and experience? That being said, sometimes a trial seems to be the only way a case can be resolved; and in that instance, critical and productive planning and effort leads to the best results, especially if the case is mediated.    My 19 years experience allows my clients to fully understand their situation and their options, plan for a resolution, and effectively control costs.    I will work with a client toward resolving their case in an agreeable manner using my extensive experience to ensure that the client is informed and understands all of the options available, has the tools to avoid problems, and that the final order is drafted to ensure complete enforceability. 

Please call and schedule an appointment for a consultation. An in-depth interview usually takes at least one to two hours to explore and understand the dynamics of a client's situation and explore practical options and resolutions to legal issues. The normal cost of an initial consultation is only $175.00


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