An Overlooked Divorce Mediation Requirement? How to Protect Yourself
Your divorce lawyer needs to know every divorce mediation requirement before you use mediation. Mediated Settlement Agreements (MSA) are very powerful tools when it comes to divorce in The Woodlands. If you follow all of the rules, then you will end up with a MSA. Once you have an enforceable Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) those terms are locked in. You cannot change them. Your ex cannot change them.
The key is to make sure the MSA meets all of the requirements to be enforceable because if it doesn’t, then you might have just wasted a lot of time and money.
Recently a court took another look at one of the possible requirements for an MSA. The question was: does the statute require a formal court referral to mediation?
This judge says the statute requires an agreement or referral
In Waco, one court did determine a formal court referral to mediation is a divorce mediation requirement before your MSA is valid. That means even if you both agree to mediate on your own, either party could attack a resulting agreement as not a valid Mediated Settlement Agreement. This is the Lee v. Lee, No. 10-03-00182-CV case. As you can imagine, relying on a vulnerable MSA to end your uncontested divorce might not work.
This judge says it doesn’t?!
However, in Austin a court recently decided the same statute does not require a formal court referral to mediation. Two judges in two different cities just read the same statute and reached different results (it happens more than you might think). So what can you do to protect yourself?
Treat It Like a Divorce Mediation Requirement
People don’t pay me to take chances with their lives, property, and children in an uncontested divorce. Most of you want certainty, and rightfully so. My suggestion is to treat it like a divorce mediation requirement and have a written agreement to mediate signed by both parties as a minimum. If you want to go the extra mile to protect your MSA you can take the steps to have that agreement reflected in a court order to mediation. It is more of a hassle but it beats spending hours and hundreds of dollars reaching an agreement that the other side can undo.