In any family law dispute, it is in the best interest of the parties involved if they can come to an amicable agreement as to how issues should be resolved. Settlement agreements in family law cases are also viewed favorably by the courts. Under Texas law, if the parties in a divorce action enter into a mediated settlement agreement (MSA), the agreement is like any other contract in that the terms of the agreement are binding upon the parties. Similarly, the court must respect the terms of an MSA in issuing a divorce decree.
If the courts enter a decree that is contrary to the terms of an MSA, it can result in a reversal of the decree, as was illustrated in a recent case decided by a Texas appellate court. If you are considering pursuing a divorce, it is in your best interest to meet with a seasoned Texas family law attorney to discuss your options for pursuing your desired result.
Terms of the Mediated Settlement Agreement
Reportedly, the parties were married for six months when the husband filed a petition for divorce. The petition alleged, in part, that the parties were the parents of two children of the marriage. The wife filed a general denial in response to the petition. The parties then entered into an MSA which stated, in part, that the husband would continue the adoption process of the first minor child, and that the wife consented to the adoption. The MSA also stated it was not subject to revocation. The husband subsequently filed a motion to enter a final divorce decree. The wife retained new counsel who then filed an amended answer, denying the husband’s parentage of the first minor child. The court held a hearing as to the child’s parentage, and ultimately entered a decree stating that the parties were the parents of both children. The wife appealed.