In Houston, Texas, mediation is used to resolve a variety of family court disputes, such as divorces, child custody contests, child support disagreements, and the like. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that provides the parties with the opportunity to draft their own settlement agreement, instead of waiting for a judge to issue an order. Mediations in Houston have also been used to resolve grandparents’ rights cases that otherwise would have spent months winding through the Texas family court system.
In Texas, state law lays out the facts that must be shown for a grandparent to seek visitation or custody. As with other determinations, visitation or custody must be in the best interests of the children. If a court determines that it is not in the children’s best interests, it will not be ordered.
In addition to being in the children’s best interests, the Texas family courts require a showing of additional circumstances. These circumstances include the divorce of the children’s parents; abuse or neglect of the children by a parent; the incarceration, death, or incompetence of a parent; the termination of a parent’s parental rights; or that the child has lived with the grandparent for a period of six months or longer.
Some grandparents who file for custody or visitation will not be able to show these circumstances, and thus would have their request denied by the court. However, in many cases, after a grandparent files such a request, the parties will mediate. Mediation allows the parties to be as creative as they like in their settlement agreements, which means that they may agree to terms that a family court judge may not order. Therefore, mediation may provide the grandparent with custody or visitation rights, even if these terms would not be ordered by the family court.