Is Mediation Required for Child Custody Matters?


Benefits Explained by Texas Family Law Attorney

Divorce and child custody matters can be extremely contentious and emotionally charged. In these situations, it can be difficult for divorcing couples to agree on important decisions like child custody, visitation, and parenting time. That's where mediation comes in.

But what exactly is mediation, and is it required for all divorce and child custody cases? In this article, we'll explore the benefits of mediation and break down the process with the help of board-certified family law attorney Duana Boswell-Loechel, founder of Boswell Law Firm in Houston, Texas.

Is Mediation Required for Divorce or Child Custody Cases?

According to Boswell-Loechel, most courts require mediation before making a final decision on child custody matters. While no statute explicitly requires it, many courts see the value in mediation as a way to potentially resolve disputes without resorting to lengthy and costly litigation.

However, it's important to note that mediation may not be the best option for all couples. In cases of domestic violence or abuse, it may not be safe or appropriate to go through the mediation process. It's important to consult with a qualified attorney in these situations to determine the best course of action.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation Over Litigation?

One of mediation's main benefits is that it allows for more creative solutions than traditional litigation. According to Boswell-Loechel, this includes unconventional custody schedules that consider a parent's work schedule or other unique circumstances.

Mediation also allows the parties involved to maintain control over the outcome. Unlike litigation, where a judge makes the final decision, mediation allows both parties to have a say in the terms of their divorce or custody agreement. This can give parents a sense of empowerment and ownership over the decisions affecting their children's lives.

Can Mediation Address Child Custody and Parenting Time?

Absolutely. Mediation can cover a wide range of issues related to divorce and child custody, including child custody, child support, health insurance, property division, and even fault grounds for divorce. It is also common for mediation to address the details of a parenting plan, including visitation schedules and decision-making responsibilities.

Do Parents Find Mediation Helpful for Working Out a Schedule?

While it may not initially be popular among couples going through a divorce, Boswell-Loechel notes that many parents find mediation beneficial in the long run. This is because it allows them to reach a mutually agreeable schedule that considers their unique circumstances. Parents can devise a schedule that works best for their families by avoiding rigid rules and statutes governing traditional litigation.

What Is the Process for Mediation?

Mediation typically involves both parties meeting with a neutral mediator who helps facilitate discussions and negotiations. The mediator may have some knowledge of the case but remains impartial throughout the process. They will work with both parties to try to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

If an agreement is reached, it will be written in a mediated settlement agreement document. The court will then approve this agreement, making it legally binding. In cases where an agreement is not reached, the mediator will send a report to the court indicating an impasse has been reached. At this point, the matter may proceed to trial.

Can Attorneys Be Present During Mediation?

Yes, attorneys are allowed to be present during mediation. They often play an important role in helping their clients navigate the negotiations and advocate on their behalf. It's worth noting that each party may have their attorney present, allowing for fair representation.

What Happens If the Parties Can't Reach an Agreement?

In some cases, couples may be unable to reach a mediation agreement. This could be due to a breakdown in communication or an inability to find common ground. If this happens, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge will decide on the contested issues.


Mediation offers divorcing couples a way to resolve their differences and make important decisions without having to resort to a lengthy and costly court battle. With the guidance of a skilled mediator and their attorneys, couples can work towards creative solutions that meet each party's and their children's needs. If you're going through a divorce or child custody matter, consider consulting with a qualified family law attorney to determine if mediation is the right option.

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