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Settling Custody, Visitation, and Support Out of Court

Resolving a Dispute Out of Court

This article explores alternative dispute resolution for Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.

This article explores alternative dispute resolution for Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. 

Can I use arbitration for my custody and visitation case?

It depends.  The court may refer a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to arbitration upon written agreement of both parties, if it is in the best interests of the party. The court cannot force an arbitration for a suit affecting the parent child relationship.

Texas Family Code 153.0071.

Is the arbitration award final in my suit affecting the parent-child relationship (custody, visitation)?

If both parties agreed, in advance, to binding arbitration, the court will render an order that reflects the arbitration award, unless it is not in the best interest of the children.

Texas Family Code 153.0071(b).

Can I use mediation for my suit affecting the parent-child relationship?

Yes. Both parties can agree to mediation, or mediation can be set by the court’s own motion.

Texas Family Code 153.0071(c).

Do I have to follow the mediation settlement in my suit affecting the parent-child relationship?

Yes. A mediated settlement is binding on the parties if the agreement: 1) Includes a clearly visible statement that is boldfaced, in capital letters, or underlined that states the agreement is not subject to revocation 2) is signed by each party to the agreement and 3) signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement was signed.

Texas Family Code 153.0071(d).

When is a mediation settlement not binding in my suit affecting the parent-child relationship?

A court can decline enter a judgment on a mediated settlement agreement if the court finds that a party to the agreement was a victim of family violence or if the agreement permits a dangerous person around your child.  A court will also not enter a judgment on a mediated settlement agreement if it is not in the best interests of the child.

Texas Family Code 153.0071(e).