What is Better, Mediation or Litigation for Child Custody?

Mediation or Litigation?

Parents who are going into battle over child custody, may wonder whether they should attempt mediation or go straight into litigation. For more information about these two options, parents may want to talk with a reputable nearby lawyer. A lawyer that is experienced in family law matters can offer advice on what to do.

Is mediation something I should try first?

Mediation can be very favorable over litigation when resolving disagreements over child custody and visitation. In general, mediation can keep legal costs lower and encourages parents to cooperate together when raising their child after parting ways. Mediation can only work if both parents are willing to collaborate. 

What if it’s difficult to talk to the other parent?

Not all separations or divorces end amicably, potentially leaving one or both parents feeling very resentful towards the other. If the parents aren’t able to tolerate having a decent conversation, then mediation is unlikely to be successful. If there is too much tension, then each parent can remain in separate rooms while the mediator acts as a messenger between them. 

Do I need a lawyer if we want to try mediation first?

Even if the child custody dispute hasn’t gone to litigation yet, it can still be beneficial to meet with a lawyer for insight. A lawyer who has helped parents in child custody battles before, can help prepare you mediation sessions. Here is some advice that a lawyer may give you when getting ready for a mediation appointment:

  • Have all necessary documentation well-organized for the meeting
  • Bring with you evidence that supports why you want a certain outcome regarding child custody
  • Have a copy of your work schedule, if you plan or collaborate with the other parent on visitation
  • Try to keep your emotions in check and focus on what is in the best interest of your child

What is child custody litigation?

Litigation over child custody happen when parents are not able to come to an agreement amongst themselves or through mediation. If mediation fails, then the divorce court will decide how the parents will split their time with the child or children. In a child custody dispute, the court will base their verdict on what will enable the child to grow up in a happy, healthy, and supportive environment. The child’s physical, emotional, and mental health, along with opportunities for quality education and socializing will be evaluated. Each parent will showcase their side and why they want a certain level of custody and visitation schedule. After going over what both parents bring forward, the ultimate decision will be on what is in the best interest of the child. 

Are there any circumstances where mediation should not be attempted?

Yes, if one parent has a history of physical violence, abuse, or threats, then mediation should not be attempted. If one parent is concerned about the safety and wellbeing of themselves and their child, then they must notify their LGBTQ child custody lawyer in Austin, TX right away about how to take protective measures. 

Thanks to Gray & Becker, P.C. for their insight into family law and mediation vs litigation for child custody.