Child custody battles are almost always emotional. Combine tense situations with legal fees and lengthy courtroom trials, and the whole process can be overwhelming and psychologically draining. However, child custody matters do not need to be addressed in a courtroom. In many states, Texas included, child custody can be negotiated through mediation. If you are considering using a mediator, you probably have many questions. We can answer them and help you understand the process.
What is child custody mediation?
Child custody mediation is a private process in which a mediator (always a neutral party) helps two parents reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement for their child or children. The mediator is not a judge and cannot enforce the custody arrangements.
What is the benefit of using a mediator in a Texas child custody case?
There are many benefits to using a mediator to settle child custody arrangements:
- Time savings: The mediation process typically results in a solution much faster than a traditional trial. Often, mediation concludes within a week or two. A trial can last several months or even years.
- Less expensive: In a trial, each parent hires a lawyer to represent them. Attorney fees plus courtroom and other legal fees can add up quickly, often to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Instead, mediation requires only one mediator and no court fees, which dramatically cuts down the costs.
- Less emotionally taxing: The intensity and pressure of a trial compounded with the unknown outcome turns any trial into a rollercoaster of emotions. Mediation offers a much more relaxed, non-adversarial approach to custody proceedings.
- Positive relations between parents: By working through mediation, parents are more likely to establish open and positive communication. Regardless of whether the parents were ever married or not, they must be able to communicate effectively in order to continue co-parenting together.
What is a mediation session like?
In a mediation session, the neutral mediator meets with the parents to come to a custody agreement. The mediator speaks with each parent to learn what their desires are and the specific circumstances surrounding them individually. Keep in mind that if the two parties do not want to be in the same room, the mediator can meet with each parent separately. The goal is a peaceful, non-adversarial agreement, and the mediator works very hard to keep the focus on the child.
What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?
Despite professional mediation, sometimes two parties cannot agree on a custody arrangement. When two parties cannot agree on a mutually satisfying arrangement, then they may need to go to trial where the judge will decide the final outcome. This is typically not the most favorable path to resolution for anyone involved.
What is my next step?
If you are facing child custody issues, contact us with any additional questions about the mediation process. We are ready to help you avoid a legal battle and reach an efficient, cost-effective arrangement.