History of the DRC
With the Texas ADR Act in mind, an exploratory committee was formed to assess the need for a Dispute Resolution Center in the Brazos Valley. This initial group consisted of representatives from political units, the justice system, social agencies, and individuals with one thing in common: their commitment to mediation as an alternative method for solving disputes.
This initial organizational committee elected a 9-member Board of Directors, and charged them with the organization of the Center. The Board of Directors established the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center- Central Brazos Valley, Inc. (“Brazos DRC”) in September 1996 (under the provisions of the Texas ADR Act). Shortly after, the Board of Directors hired an Executive Director to oversee the daily operations of the Center.
Today, the Brazos DRC still operates under the Texas ADR Act, the Texas Family Code, and the Texas Civil Procedures and Remedies Code. We have expanded the staff to include a full time Case Manager, but still function as a low cost/no cost mediation center with the mission of facilitating the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Many of our cases are Court-ordered from the surrounding District and County Courts. Other cases are referred to the DRC by attorneys or previous clients.
ADR Legislation in Texas:
In 1983, the Texas legislature passed the Alternative Dispute Resolution Systems and Financing Act which authorized the Commissioners Court of each county to “establish an alternative dispute resolution system for the peaceable and expeditious resolution of citizen disputes.” This act defines an alternative dispute resolution system as a “forum in which mediation, conciliation, or arbitration is used to resolve disputes among individuals”. In order to establish and maintain such programs, the act authorizes each County’s Commissioners Court to add an additional cost, not to exceed fifteen dollars, on the filing fee in certain civil cases.
Four years later, in 1987, the Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Act (ADR Act) was enacted. The ADR Act proclaims that “It is the policy of this state to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes, with special consideration given to disputes involving the parent-child relationship, including mediation of issues involving conservatorship, possession, and support of children, and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures.” Five dispute resolution processes to which disputes can be referred are described by the ADR Act: mediation, mini-trial, moderated settlement conference, summary jury trial and arbitration. Mediation is defined as “a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.