Effects Of Mediated Settlement Agreements

Mediation

EFFECTS OF MEDIATED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

Requirements

Mediated Settlement Agreements are binding agreements between the parties so long as the requirements of the Texas Family Code are met. A mediated settlement agreement is binding on the parties if the agreement: (1) provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldfaced type or capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation; (2) is signed by each party to the agreement; and (3) is signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement is signed.

Binding

If a mediated settlement agreement meets the requirements of this section, a party is entitled to judgment on the mediated settlement agreement notwithstanding Rule 11, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, or another rule of law. Mediated settlement agreements are binding on the parties at the times that they are signed. If one party attempts to revoke their consent to the mediated settlement agreement, the other party may seek entry of a judgment on the mediated settlement agreement by filing a Motion to Render and Enter Judgment Pursuant to Mediate Settlement Agreement. At a hearing on said motion, the Court should not substitute its judgment nor change the terms of the mediated settlement agreement. In that regard, modifications to settlement agreements are typically grounds for reversal only if they add terms, significantly alter the original terms or undermine the intent of the parties. With regard to property, unlike other settlement agreements, the Court is not required to determine whether or not the property agreements constitute a “just and right” division of the marital estate. With regard to children’s issues, the Court should not substitute its own “best interest” review of the agreements made between the parties.

Family Violence

A court may decline to enter a judgment on a mediated settlement agreement if the court finds that (1) a party to the agreement was a victim of family violence, and that circumstance impaired the party’s ability to make decisions; and (2) the agreement is not in the child’s best interest.

Fraud

A material misrepresentation by one party to an agreement can support rescission or repudiation by the other party. Failure to disclose material information by one contracting party can lead to the rescission of an otherwise enforceable settlement agreement under what is essentially fraudulent inducement.

Illegality

Mediated settlement agreements can be found void if the agreement results in fraud, or if its provisions are illegal, although contracts are generally voided for illegality only when performance requires fraud or a violation of criminal law.