I was in court today to argue about a Mediated Settlement Agreement. Before I write anymore, a Mediated Settlement Agreement is an agreement that was reached in mediation between the parties. Sometimes these agreements resolve the entire case and sometimes they only resolve part of the case. In either case, if the Mediated Settlement Agreement is in compliance with the Texas Family Code then the parties are entitled to a Judgment on that agreement.
What does “entitled to a Judgment” mean? It means that the Court MUST sign an Order that complies with the Mediated Settlement Agreement. When you go to mediation you and your spouse work with a mediator to try to resolve the issues in the case, or at least narrow down the issues. If this agreement were not enforceable then why would anyone want to waste time and money by going to mediation? Most courts require mediation, so making the agreement enforceable and requiring the Court to enter an Order helps to ensure that the parties understand the finality of this agreement.
So back to today, the other party to the case did not want to sign the final order because that person was upset about the agreements made. Unfortunately, there are very limited circumstances in which you can undo an agreement because the legislature wanted to encourage finality in cases. When you are going through mediation one of the things that will be in your Mediated Settlement Agreement is the following language: “This agreement is not subject to revocation.” Most mediators will require you to sign or initial next to that line to ensure that you have read that line of the agreement. If you read this, sign or initial next to it, sign the Mediated Settlement Agreement and all attorneys sign the agreement then the Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding.
So in a nutshell, the big deal about Mediated Settlement Agreements is that they are binding and should not be taken lightly. Very rarely will an attorney be able to undo any agreements you made in mediation so before you sign be sure that these are the terms you want to agree to.