Texas parents who are ending their marriage and who have one or more minor children might want to consider negotiating a child support agreement instead of going to court to have a judge make the determination. They may do this in informal negotiations by themselves. Another option is for their respective attorneys to take the lead.
Parents who would like to be more involved in the process of conflict resolution might consider mediation or collaborative law. These alternative dispute resolution processes help parents work together to reach a compromise they may both be more satisfied with than they might be with a decision the judge arrives at through litigation. Arbitration is another option although it is more formal and not used as much in family law. This involves having a third party listen to evidence and positions on both sides.
All of these approaches have the same goal, and that is to produce a written agreement for a judge to review. The judge will make sure that the agreement seems to have been fairly negotiated and does not violate state child support guidelines. It will then become a legally binding court order.
People may be able to negotiate other aspects of their divorce using these methods as well. If one spouse is uncooperative or abusive, alternative dispute resolution or negotiations may not be appropriate. A parent might wish to limit the other parent’s access to the child if the child’s well-being is in danger. However, in the absence of these extenuating circumstances, it may be possible to reach an agreement out of court even in a contentious divorce. Conflict resolution skills learned may help later with co-parenting as well.