Disputes over child custody (called “conservatorship” in Texas) can be the most frustrating and upsetting part of a couple’s divorce. The term “bitter custody battle” is a frequent description of the parents’ animosity during the proceedings. But the process of mediation in child custody disputes offers a reasonable solution.
Custody disputes can drag out for months, as parents argue between each other, leaving parents without any resolution. But there is a process called mediation that takes less time and cost less than a contested court battle. Mediation in child custody can help both parties come to an agreement to resolve the disputes.
What Is Mediation?
Instead of relying on the courts to make these decisions, parents can work with a neutral and objective third party—called a mediator—to make their own parenting decisions.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR.) It can be a valuable tool in resolving child custody disputes as it provides an opportunity for parents to reach a mutually agreeable solution with the assistance of a third party. Mediation in child custody helps parents take control of the issues to resolve them to the satisfaction of both parties.
How It Works
Once the parties decide to pursue mediation, or they are ordered to by a judge, the process is straightforward:
• The parties jointly schedule a meeting and choose a mediator—either a private one with experience in mediation in child custody or one from a list of court-approved mediators.
• The mediator prepares by gathering relevant information from both parents prior to the meeting, such as parenting plans and financial statements
• During the scheduled meeting, the mediator facilitates and encourages discussion between the parents and their concerns with an emphasis on the child’s best interests
• If both parties reach an agreement, the mediator drafts a document with the details of their arrangement, and both parties sign.
• The document is then filed with the court. If the judge approves and signs it, the document becomes a legally binding court order.
Many parties voluntarily seek mediation, while some are ordered to attempt mediation prior to their court date. If domestic violence is involved, one party has the option to request a waiver of the mediation requirement.
Because mediation in child custody is not a court hearing, it is less expensive. This also keeps the dispute out of a backlogged court system and finishes those decisions. Mediation can also offer a much faster resolution than waiting months for a custody hearing.
Mediation is also less contentious than litigation, both for the parents and for the children involved. The children can offer their input, make their wishes known, and be involved in the discussions. They would not if the custody issues were decided in court. Through mediation, parents can also improve their communication and become better co-parents once the divorce is finalized.
Help With Mediation In Child Custody From Wendy L. Hart
As an experienced and caring Mansfield-Fort Worth Child Custody attorney, Wendy Hart understands the passionate emotions parents feel when it comes to their children’s wellbeing. Mediation for child custody can help each parent be heard without either one being embarrassed or defensive. They work with a neutral mediator who can help them broker their own agreement.
The Law Office of Wendy L. Hart represents both mothers and fathers in custody matters and can work with you for successful mediation. Use our online contact form, or call us at (817) 842-2336 to learn more.