Many divorcing couples in Texas find it impossible to agree on matters related to child custody, also known as conservatorship and possession of their children. However, they may also not be keen to having such important decisions made by a judge in the family court who has no knowledge of the family and its dynamics. An alternative option that many parents choose is mediation. In some divorce cases, a judge may order mediation for a couple to resolve their child custody issues.
Mediation involves an experienced mediator that will facilitate communication between two parents in an attempt to reach mutual agreements. Such agreements are typically not subject to revocation, and once the parents have signed the document, it will be binding. Each parent may have a legal representative present during mediation. In addition to his or her contributions to negotiations, such a professional will also ensure the legality of the signed document.
In addition to agreements on conservatorship, the mediation process commonly includes the drawing up of a parenting plan that will ensure the preservation of parent-child relationships with both parents. The unique circumstances of families will be accommodated in parenting plans, while the best interests of the children will remain the primary consideration. In addition to specifying each parent's access to the children, the legal responsibilities and rights of both parents will be detailed in the parenting plan.
However, when one spouse is a victim of family violence or abuse, a judge may not accept agreements that may have been reached under duress or after coercion. If a court orders mediation in such circumstances, an abused parent may request for mediation to be arranged to accommodate his or fears. For example, facilitating mediation where each party is in a separate room may be allowed. An experienced Texas family law attorney will assist couples in finding an accomplished mediator and ensure that the mediation takes place in surroundings where each spouse feels comfortable enough to discuss child custody issues.
Source: womenslaw.org, "Custody", Accessed on Feb. 10, 2015