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Family Law Survival Guide: Encouraging Compromise

Custody disputes are, to say the least, tough. Parents and caretakers are advised to make every effort to settle all disputes as amicably as possible. When informal negotiations and settlement discussions fail, mediation may offer an affordable alternative to dispel hostilities. Agreeing to mediate your issues juxtapose litigation is a significant accomplishment.

As with most litigation, custody disputes start when a lawsuit is filed. Either you or your spouse hires an attorney, files the lawsuit, and the responding party answers with a denial or a counterclaim. The case is usually scheduled for a ‘temporary orders hearing’ to determine such things as temporary conservatorship, visitation, and support. A heavily contested temporary orders hearing could last an entire day and be as exhausting as an actual trial. Since these hearing occur at the beginning of the process, if hotly contested, they may offer a glimpse into how contested the entire process may become. Contested matters often drag on for months and sometimes years. If the parents continue to fight, the matter results in a trial. In family matters, the decision maker at trial is most often the judge. The decision maker is charged with determining what’s in the best interest of the child(ren); never assume that the judge will automatically rule in your favor. The Texas Family Code is gender neutral and doesn’t favor any one parent over the other. After the ruling either party may appeal the decision. An appeal can go on for years. Litigation doesn’t necessarily have to end contentiously if the parties are steered toward cooperation. President Abraham Lincoln discouraged litigation and encouraged us to compromise whenever possible.

Custody disputes are understandably important to all the parties. Trial is not your only choice. Wise counsel doesn’t actively encourage contentious protracted litigation. When picking an attorney, be sure to choose competent legal counsel who endeavors to provide you options and objective advice. Remain open to compromise and consider mediation if informal negotiation breaks down.

Your attorney should encourage you to avoid pursuing your matter to trial if at all possible. A trial doesn't guarantee you an opportunity to effectively convey your every concern to the decision maker; the judge. When you remain open to compromise and utilize mechanisms such as mediation, the power to decide the outcome is yours.

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