An experienced lawyer can offer strategies to help you get the custody arrangement you desire. There are no guarantees that the outcome will be precisely what you want, but there are several custody proceedings that can make a difference, beginning with temporary orders.
First, either parent can file a motion asking the court to issue temporary orders providing for interim custody, parenting time, and support of a child, before any trial is ever scheduled.
Temporary orders can sometimes influence permanent orders later on. When interim or temporary orders work well for a child, the court may be hesitant to upset the status quo when it comes time to enter permanent orders.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
A few possible alternative dispute resolution tools can help parents attempt to resolve their conflicts prior to trial.
They include mediation, the appointment of an amicus attorney, the appointment of parenting coordinators, and a child custody evaluation. Any or all of these may be a part of your custody case.
How Do Mediators Help?
Arriving at a custody agreement with the other parent and avoiding trial is always possible with the help of a professional mediator. In Texas, custody mediation is a confidential process, whether the mediator is assigned by the court or by agreement of the parties. Mediated settlement agreements are later submitted to the court.
These agreements later serve as the blueprint for drafting a court order to be signed by the judge. When mediation does not result in an agreement, a later court hearing will decide what is in the child’s best interest and dictate custody terms for both parents.
What Does an Amicus Attorney Do?
In situations where the parties need a little extra boost to get themselves to a place where agreements may be possible, an amicus attorney can be appointed. The amicus attorney’s job is to assist the court in determining what arrangements are in the child’s best interest.
The amicus attorney (as opposed to an ad litem attorney) does not represent the child or either party. In doing so, the amicus attorney looks out for the child’s best interest and acts as the eyes and ears of the judge for the time that the parties are not inside the courthouse. The amicus attorney will assist the court with making decisions regarding where the child should primarily reside, what rights and duties each parent should have and other important issues.
The amicus attorney, as a neutral party, is allowed access to each parent’s home life, which ordinarily nobody else would be able to see. The judge has little to no understanding of the parents’ relationship with the child and so the amicus is designed to assist the court in learning more about each parent’s:
- Child rearing style
- Personal relationship with the child
- Home environment
How Do Parenting Coordinators Help?
In high-conflict custody cases, a parenting coordinator may be appointed to meet with parents to discuss their concerns about the parenting plan. The coordinator does not advocate for either party’s position but facilitates negotiations by blending counseling, parent education, and dispute resolution techniques into the discussions.
As a facilitator, the coordinator assists parents in settling their differences to develop a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interest. If the parents cannot resolve their dispute and do not agree to a plan, then the coordinator will make recommendations.
How Do Child Custody Evaluators Help?
After thorough investigation and inquiry in a limited-scope psychological custody evaluation of the family, the child custody evaluator makes custody recommendations to the court. In determining what is in the best interest of the child, the evaluator interviews the parents, the child, and other family members, and reviews documents and records regarding the child.
As a mental health professional, the evaluator submits a detailed report to the court with recommendations for legal decision-making and parenting time. When parents do not agree to a parenting plan and a custody trial becomes necessary, the evaluator’s report will be very influential with the judge.
Tips for a Successful Relationship with Your Child
If custody is contested, your lawyer must present your parenting decisions and judgments in the light most favorable to you. The strategy is essential to your getting the relationship you want with your child.
Even when parents are in agreement today, a custody disagreement could arise anytime. Therefore, always be prepared to validate and substantiate your parenting decisions before, during, and after your custody case is complete.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.