In Texas, the most utilized system in resolving divorces, custody battles, child support and other issues is the process of mediation. The article below from the Family Law Help Center should be useful in trying to understand that process and its utility in the process of your case.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which parents work together, with the assistance of a neutral third person, to develop a Parenting Agreement that is in the best interests of their children. Mediation is not counseling or an attempt to reconcile.
The Family Mediation Center assists parents in resolving all non-financial issues. Generally, the following issues are discussed in mediation:
- Legal Custody: how important decisions about the child will be made.
- Physical Custody: when the child will spend time with each parent.
- Holidays and Special Times: where the child will spend holidays and special times.
- Vacation Time: how many vacation days each parent will have with the child and how much notice is required.
- Transportation and Exchanges: who will provide transportation and where to meet for child exchanges.
- Special Provisions: any additional agreements the parents create.
Generally, parents must attempt mediation after filing a contested child custody case if they cannot work out child custody and visitation issues on their own. Mediation can also take place in guardianship or CPS cases.
Mediation is confidential – nothing discussed in mediation will be provided to the Court except the written Parenting Agreement if one is created by the parents or information about non-attendance.
Mediators are not judges or attorneys. They will not make final decisions and cannot represent the parents or give them legal advice. Mediators are neutral third persons who encourage open communication and assist parents in developing a Parenting Agreement that both parents help create. Before the Parenting Agreement is submitted to the Court, the parents are encouraged to review it with an attorney before signing it. If no agreement is reached, the Court will hold a trial to determine what is in the best interests of the children.
Parents can also re-mediate after they have created a Parenting Agreement, if they need to make changes. Both parents must contact FMC to request re-mediation and pay all outstanding fees with FMC before a re-mediation appointment will be scheduled.
Please contact us if you are in need of help with your family law case.