How Does Child Custody Mediation Work in Texas?
If you and your spouse are divorcing and have children, child custody and child support can be a key component of your divorce proceedings. Both divorce and child custody conflicts often go to court for resolution. However, if you and your divorcing spouse already agree on most divorce or child custody terms, you can save time and money by working with a mediator.
Before going to court, Texas requires couples dissolving their marriages or disputing child custody to go through the mediation process. The child custody and divorce mediation process allows the separating couple to negotiate with a mediator acting as a go-between for both parties and their legal counsel.
You may have several options of mediation attorneys when you search for “divorce lawyers near me.” How do you know which one to choose in this stressful time? Make sure to prepare yourself with a clear understanding of the mediation process in Texas.
Does Child Custody Need to Be Determined During Divorce Proceedings?
If you and your spouse have not decided on child custody responsibilities, the court will likely mandate child custody mediation during the divorce proceedings. When the court orders mediation sessions, mediation is typically low-cost or uses sliding-scale pricing.
If you’re divorcing your spouse because they snore and you haven’t slept a full night in three years, that’s irrelevant to child custody mediation. During mediation, don’t bring other divorce arguments into the discussion about caring for your children. Points you can and should include are abuse, finance management, healthcare for your children, and concern for nutrition while your spouse has custody.
Will Child Custody Awards Change If a Divorce Is a No-Fault or At-Fault Divorce?
Texas is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the spouse who files to dissolve the marriage does not have to prove fault by the other spouse.
The state of Texas may consider a divorce at fault in cases of:
- cruel or abusive treatment by a spouse
- incarceration of a spouse for one or more years
- living apart or separated for three or more years
- one spouse living in a mental institution for three or more years
- abandonment that lasts one or more years
If the court must decide on child custody—should mediation fail and the couple does not reach an agreement—the court would likely assess which parent could provide better care for the children and then split time between both parents according to capability. Additionally, the court would likely reduce the time for custody by the at-fault party in the divorce.
Is There an Alternative Dispute Resolution Option Outside of Court?
Family law courts in Texas require that any divorcing couple first seek mediation to come up with a resolution before going to court. The courts will then decide on any unresolved issues after mediation.
During mediation, if the couple is unable or unwilling to sit down together at the same table, the mediator can place the spouses in separate rooms, along with their legal counsel if the divorcing parties have representation. Mediation can also include virtual meetings with each party or different meeting times. Neither party needs to interact with the other during mediation.
If you and your spouse largely agree on your divorce and child custody terms, mediation may be as simple as drafting the Mediated Settlement Agreement. This agreement defines the agreed-upon terms and is effective immediately, and you submit it to the court to act as the final resolution agreement between parties.
If you and your divorcing spouse disagree on points of child custody during mediation, it may take several mediation sessions to work out a reasonable compromise between both parties. If you and your spouse can’t agree to terms during mediation, your case will go to court for a judge to make the decisions.
How Is the Mediation Process Different from the Divorce Process?
Dissolving a marriage requires a legal settlement, which can be authorized by a mediator, a judge, or both. Mediation is a private process in which the terms agreed upon are confidential. Spouses typically do not interact with each other during mediation.
Court proceedings are public. If you can come to an agreement during mediation, the costs will be much lower than paying court costs for a contested case in your divorce or child custody hearing.
How Do I Find a Mediation Lawyer Near Me?
Before you search for “divorce attorneys near me,” consider the benefit of going to an experienced mediation lawyer. You may never have to see a single day in a courtroom if you can settle through mediation with certified mediator attorney Tycha Kimbrough. Kimbrough Legal, PLLC, is a modern law firm with offices in Austin and San Antonio that offers 24/7 online client portal access and a by-your-side attitude.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Kimbrough Legal, PLLC
5920 W. William Cannon Dr., Bldg 3, Ste 400
Austin, TX 78749