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Alternative Dispute Resolution for Custody Disputes

Child custody is often a contested issue during divorce. When parents fight over who gets custody or terms of custody, courts can motion to use alternative dispute resolution procedures. A spouse can also enter a motion for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Texas courts give special consideration to parent-child relationships and encourage amicable dispute resolutions. ADR can help parents resolve parent-child issues involving conservatorship, possession and child support, and arrive at early settlements during pending litigation.

You should discuss alternative dispute resolution with your Texas divorce lawyer so you understand what is involved and what to expect.

Texas Family Code SubChapter on Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures provides you with these ADR options:

  • Mediation. A neutral third party helps facilitate a settlement, reconciliation, or understanding between you.
  • Mini-Trial. You and your attorneys present your positions before an impartial third party or selected representatives for each party. The impartial third party may offer an advisory opinion on the merits of the case, but it is not binding unless you agree and settle.
  • Moderated settlement conference. This is a forum for case evaluation and realistic settlement negotiations that allows both sides to present their positions before a panel of impartial third parties who may offer a non-binding advisory opinion.
  • Summary jury trial. Also a forum for case evaluation and negotiated settlement, you and your attorneys present your case before a panel of jurors (usually six) who offer a non-binding advisory opinion.
  • Arbitration. Non-binding arbitration allows you and your lawyers to present your positions before an impartial third party who renders a specific decision. Before engaging in arbitration, spouses can decide to make the arbitrator's decision binding or non-binding.

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