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Resolving Child Custody Disputes in Texas

 Posted on December 12, 2023 in Child custody

Hurst, TX divorce lawyer

For both divorcing parents and unwed parents living in separate households, child conservatorship can be a critical issue that often gives rise to disputes. Having to split possession can be a difficult reality for any parent. Some parents are unable to agree to a parenting plan on their own, which makes relying on outside parties, such as a judge or mediator, necessary.  A Texas child custody lawyer is a great source for discussing the different ways that parents can potentially resolve disagreements and other issues involving child conservatorship and possession.

Just The Two of Us 

Parents willing to cooperate have the potential to resolve conservatorship and possession disputes on their own. It may still be prudent to appoint and consult an experienced attorney so that both parents fully understand their legal rights when it comes to their children.

With full knowledge of their rights, parents can create a list of their wants, needs, and desires for their children when it comes to conservatorship, possession, and access. Understand that compromise will be necessary and that each parent will need to communicate effectively with one another for this to work. Keeping things civil and open-minded can go a long way towards settling any disputes the parents may have regarding their children’s well-being and future. Once a parenting plan is in place, both parties’ attorneys can review the plan and ensure your children’s best interests are met.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Texas has three ADR options available to parents who cannot resolve disputes on their own:

  • Mediation

  • Arbitration

  • Collaborative law

Mediation is a non-adversarial process in which parents, with attorney assistance, are guided by a mediator to reach a custody arrangement.  However, a couple cannot choose mediation on their own. Instead, a judge must refer a couple to handle their disputes through mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party known as the mediator who attempts to guide the parents to an amicable outcome regarding their children and their needs.

Arbitration is very similar to mediation in that a judge can refer an arbitrator to preside over the conservatorship dispute. However, before that is possible, the parents must first agree to arbitration in writing. Both parties can then decide if the arbitration ruling will be legally binding or not, and then proceed with negotiations. A binding arbitration agreement is made official once parents agree, but only if the judge believes that the agreed-upon terms are in the best interest of the children.

Collaborative law shares a lot of the same benefits as the previously mentioned ADR but is a more formalized process under Texas law. The collaborative law process takes place without a judge and must be agreed upon in writing by both parties before it can proceed. Collaborative law can include mediation as well as other non-adversarial processes that involve additional assisting third parties to help parents reach a resolution. A finalized agreement through collaborative law is considered legally binding. However, if an agreement cannot be met, both parties must dissolve their relationship with their current attorneys and, if they so choose to repeat the process, must include new attorneys to legally represent them.

Take It To Court

If ADR fails, the court is the only option still available. For a dispute to reach this point would require a serious issue or concern that cannot be resolved without a court presiding. Chances are that one parent has strong reservations about allowing the other parent to have unsupervised possession of their children.

Child conservatorship disputes that make it to court will require the judge to consider many factors in determining the arrangement that they feel works best for their children’s best interest. Parents will have a chance to present evidence to this effect before a judge makes their final decision.

Contact a Tarrant County, TX Family Law Attorney

There are a few options a parent can choose from to resolve any disputes they may have regarding the conservatorship and possession of their children. If you need assistance in this matter, consult a Hurst, TX child custody lawyer Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C.. Daniel will fight for the best interest of your children and see your case through until a final decision is made. Contact the firm at 817-498-4105 for a free consultation.

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