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Methods for resolving conflicts over child support

Texas parents who are getting a divorce do not necessarily have to rely on a judge to make decisions about child support. They may negotiate an agreement with the help of their attorneys in an informal process. They might also go through a more formal process that uses a type of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, collaborative divorce or arbitration.

In the first type of negotiation, the parents might be involved, or the attorneys themselves may do the negotiating on behalf of their clients. In collaborative law and mediation, parents are very involved in the process of reaching a resolution. With arbitration, which is less common in family law than the other two, a third party hears both sides and makes a decision. This decision is not binding unless both parents agree. All of these methods are less adversarial than a trial usually is.

The idea in both cases is that parents will eventually make a written agreement. It then goes to a judge who will review the agreement to ensure that it does not violate state child support guidelines and has been fairly negotiated. At this point, the agreement becomes legally binding. This allows a parent to pursue child support using legal means if necessary.

Other aspects of divorce, including child custody, visitation and property division may be negotiated using these approaches as well. People do not necessarily need to be going through an amicable divorce in order to use these alternate dispute resolution methods. The idea behind them is to resolve areas of conflict to the satisfaction of all parties. Furthermore, strategies from these conflict resolution sessions may help in co-parenting later. A parenting agreement may also help prevent some conflicts by anticipating them ahead of time.

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