Many people in the Austin area probably understand that when parents who are living in separate homes are able to cooperate with each other and maintain a cordial relationship, at least when it comes to raising the children they have in common, it is better for all involved. However, it can be hard to know exactly how to do that, especially when tensions are running high between a couple.
One approach, as a previous post discussed, is for a Travis County judge to appoint an official called a “guardian ad litem.” While having an expert conduct an investigation is helpful, the drawback is that, ultimately, the judge still needs to make a decision about conservatorship and parenting time, which could leave one side disappointed.
Sometimes, however, judges will order child custody mediation. In other cases, a couple may voluntarily choose to take this approach. In a child custody mediation, a neutral third party, usually a family law attorney or someone with expertise in children and family affairs, will work with each parent to try to help them to come to a consensus about what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the children involved.
The process is confidential and, if it succeeds, it saves the parents the time, money and stress of going to court for a contested conservatorship. Moreover, it can set a healthy tone for the parents’ relationship going forward that will, in turn, potentially affect the children positively. Mediation is not right for all situations, but it can at least be an option to which parents remain open.