Texas family law allows the parties to a divorce to enter into a binding mediated settlement agreement (MSA). If the agreement meets certain requirements, a party is entitled to judgment on the agreement. In some cases, however, one party may wish to challenge a mediated settlement agreement. In a recent case, a wife challenged the enforceability of a mediated settlement agreement.
The couple was married for about 10 years when the wife decided to end the marriage. She sought a mediator, and the parties attended mediation without attorneys and executed a written MSA.
The MSA made the parents joint managing conservators, with the husband having the right to designate the kids’ primary residence. The parties agreed the husband would keep the marital home and the wife would not pay child support. The MSA required the wife to file the divorce petition within 10 days. The MSA further provided the case would be finalized any time after May 1, 2015.
The husband filed a divorce petition nine days after the MSA was executed. He asked the court to approve and render judgment consistent with the MSA. The wife filed an answer with a general denial. The husband and his attorney appeared in court, but the wife did not receive notice of the hearing and did not appear. The trial court rendered oral judgment on the MSA at the hearing.