Whether you are divorcing your spouse or the two of you have never married, resolving the issue of child custody in the Lone Star State does not have to be bigger just because it is in Texas. Kids are not immune to underlying tension, so anything you can do to settle custody amicably is in their best interests.
As long as you and your former partner commit to working together, standing before a judge is not a requirement. Deciding on the matter out of court is what attorneys call alternative dispute resolution, or in other words, processes that give parents several "alternatives" for resolving the issue.
FindLaw introduces these alternatives and presents details to assist you if you are a parent seeking to share custody of your child with a former spouse or significant other.
One possibility FindLaw offers is mediation, a choice that allows each of you to contribute equally to the discussion with the help of a mediator. If chosen well, the mediator is a trained negotiator who is able to assist your communication.
Perhaps you and your former spouse, for example, have difficulty discussing the details of a custody agreement. This is an understandable dilemma when emotions are running high. The mediator - emotionally unattached from the situation - can view it more objectively and help you and your former partner to see from the other's perspective. Simply adding the objective third party could give you enough extra insight that you both are able to lay down your arms.
Another alternative FindLaw presents is negotiating informally. If neither of you is having a particularly difficult time expressing your hopes for the custody settlement, you may be able to get by with an informal negotiation or "voluntary settlement" that requires neither mediators nor judges. In this process and in the mediation approach, a written agreement should be the end goal.
Note the intent of this information is to educate regarding child custody options. It does not aim to provide legal advice.