Parents in the process of divorcing one another must resolve several major issues concerning their children. Many parents truly want the best for their children but disagree strongly about how to achieve it. While litigating these issues before a judge can form a final resort, the Texas court system presents several options to help parents arrive at a consensus on issues such as custody, visitation, education and more.
Parents involved in divorce mediation may choose to include parenting disputes in the list of matters they want to resolve during the process. As with other issues, they can include resolved parenting matters in the agreement they submit to the judge, who reviews it for compliance with laws and the best interests of the children before issuing an official order.
Texas courts may also make available the services of parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators. While both types of professionals help parents resolve disagreements, their functions do have several important differences.
Generally, a judge who believes a particular couple would benefit from working with a parenting coordinator may hold a hearing and then appoint a coordinator. Most often, this happens in situations where conflict between the parents escalates to a high point. Parents may ask for a particular coordinator; it is up to the judge whether to grant such a request. Like mediation, parenting coordination is a confidential process; the coordinator will not disclose or testify about any part of the process unless legally required in cases of suspected abuse.
Parenting facilitation fulfills a similar function of conflict resolution. However, unlike coordinators and mediators, facilitators may supervise and guide the parents. Courts may choose to appoint facilitators when they perceive concerns about the parents’ compliance with parenting plans or if they believe the parents may have lost sight of their children’s best interests. Facilitation is not confidential, and facilitators may testify about the proceedings.
Often, individual circumstances can greatly affect the extent to which divorcing parents can benefit from various dispute resolution techniques. Working with a qualified attorney can help you clarify your options and define a way forward with your children’s benefit in mind.