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Understanding mediation in a Texas child custody case

When a Texas couple divorces, many issues will come to the forefront. Among the most important and complicated is child custody. In Texas, the parent who has custody is referred to as being in possession, and the parent who is granted visitation receives access. To settle these difficult matters, it is often beneficial to consider alternatives such as mediation.

Many people are unfamiliar with mediation, so understanding the process is key. With mediation, the couple will meet with a professional who is neutral, has experience with finding common ground among the parties and can assist with settling disputes. This can be helpful as it avoids acrimony and seeks an agreement that the sides can be satisfied with while serving the best interests of the child. If one parent asks the other to take part in mediation, it is wise to have it in writing, so the court can have proof that the request was made and there was an attempt to negotiate in good faith. If the other parent declines, the written response can say why.

Deciding to reject a judge's order for mediation could lead to a charge of contempt. The parent who is ordered to take part in mediation is required to attend at least one session. Failing to adhere to the judge's order could result in the judge being displeased and negatively impact on the case. However, one parent cannot force the other parent to take part.

Mediation will generally take up to three hours. The parents will discuss their issues with the mediator. This can be the impetus to flexibility and an eventual agreement. Even for couples who have significant discord, mediation may be worth a try. Regardless of whether mediation is attempted, when dealing with child custody and visitation rights, having legal assistance may be useful.

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