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Fran Brochstein, LLC Offers Caring Family Law Mediation Services

By S. Mathur

Family disputes often bring out the worst in people. During her time as a lawyer in the family courts, Fran Brochstein, Attorney & Mediator, saw plenty of bitterness and few solutions. She says that she found her time in family law litigation to be frustrating.

"You see good people at their worst. Litigation is expensive and is a slow process. Most family court dockets are full and sometimes even getting a hearing on an emergency situation can take up to a month, when a child is potentially in harm's way waiting several weeks to get before a judge is unacceptable."

In 2003, after a brush with breast cancer, she decided on a career change from litigation to mediation: "I offer an alternative to going to court. Many courts now require mediation prior to trial. In fact, some courts now require mediation before a person can request even a hearing before the judge." She took her first mediation training in 2004 and is now qualified to train mediators. She has a full-time mediation practice in Houston, Harris County and surrounding counties, focusing on family law cases like divorce, child custody, child support, property division, and modifications.

Mediation is widely used in cases such as small claims court, civil cases, family law and elder cases. It has many advantages over litigation, Brochstein says: "Mediation is a confidential process that uses an impartial third party to help people engage in conflict constructively and discuss their issues. The mediator helps the parties come to an agreement that all the parties can live with. The mediator does not tell the parties how they should resolve their differences but the mediator may offer suggestions for the parties to consider."

Brochstein explains that mediation is less formal than going before a judge. While judges are bound by the rules and have to follow the law, mediators can "think outside the box" and come up with solutions to which both parties can agree. Mediation also saves both sides having to go through a time-consuming and costly court trial. It preserves their confidentiality and unlike family law cases that are tried in the courts, private matters don't have to become matters of public record.

Brochstein recalls an usual mediation case she handled earlier this year, which ended well. A couple in their 60s were getting divorced after being married for forty years, and she was contacted by their grown son to help his parents. The wife had no experience of handling financial affairs but hired a financial consultant and got her first credit card.

Thanks to Brochstein's mediation, the process was respectful and gentle, and the couple were able to reach an agreement that suited both. Once the agreement was finalized, the legal paperwork was handled by an attorney.

Even though she has been licensed as an attorney in the State of Texas for twenty-five years, Brochstein cannot serve as attorney in cases where she is also the mediator. She does have a list of trusted attorneys that she can recommend to clients. Finding a good attorney whom you can trust can be challenging, and Brochstein's advice is to meet with the attorney before signing a Legal Services Agreement.

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