Family Law Lawyer Austin, TX
There are several legal strategies that parents can implement when navigating a child custody dispute. But not all strategies are helpful or ultimately fruitful for every family. When considering what kind of legal strategies may best serve you and your child, it is important to discuss your situation thoroughly with your Austin, TX child custody lawyer. Experienced Austin, TX family law lawyers from Gray & Becker, P.C. have had exposure to a variety of different kinds of child custody disputes and can generally advise you on what strategies might work best in your unique situation. One legal strategy that our legal team may suggest is mediation.
How Does Mediation Work?
During the mediation process, you and your child’s other parent would likely sit down to negotiate accompanied by your individual attorneys. Also present at the negotiating table would be a child custody mediator. This individual acts as a neutral third party. This means that the mediator is not present to take sides or insist upon any specific outcome.
Instead, mediators generally help the process to progress by keeping both parties “on track.” A mediator may ask questions or even make suggestions, but he or she provides a neutral presence, not a truly influential one. This process represents a sharp contrast from the often adversarial realities of a courtroom.
If and when you and your child’s other parent reach an agreement regarding custody, visitation and any other details noted in your child custody agreement, it will be submitted to the court for approval. If you and your child’s parent cannot come to an agreement during the mediation process, you will need to go to court for a judge to determine arrangements in your child’s best interests.
Is Mediation Right for My Family?
Mediation is an attractive option. But it is not right for everyone. The single greatest advantage to pursuing mediation is that parents themselves largely get to determine the terms of their child custody agreement. It is only in extreme cases that a judge would overrule what consenting parents have constructed during mediation. If you do not mediate your dispute and your attorneys cannot negotiate terms between themselves, you will need to go to court. And as previously noted, when cases go to court, it is judges rather than parents who decide the terms of an agreement. This reality may serve as a powerful incentive for parents who are not presently inclined to negotiate with one another directly or through their attorneys. It is possible to embrace a third option, which is attorney-led negotiation. This process is less adversarial than going directly to court, but requires less face time with your ex than mediation does. If this third option interests you, make sure to let your Austin, TX family law lawyer know.
With that said, mediation is generally not a good choice for those parents whose relationship is affected by domestic violence or other abuse. Trying to negotiate with one’s abuser is generally a toxic prospect. In addition, when parents have truly fundamental differences in their approaches to custody, mediation may only serve as a waste of time. If one or both parents cannot or will not become amenable to compromise, judicial intervention may be required in order to move the case along.
Help Is Available
If you have questions about mediation or other legal strategies related to child custody, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Austin, Texas family law lawyer. Once you have been advised of your options, you can make informed decisions about your situation moving forward.