There are 3 types of case and/or property settlement methods in Texas family law cases, and each settlement document has pros and cons, depending on the facts of the case.
1. Mediated Settlement Agreement
The strongest form of settlement agreement is a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). A signed MSA is achieved when an agreement is reached in mediation with a certified mediator, who is usually an attorney.
Once the MSA contains the language required by statute, Texas Family Code §§6.602 & 153.0071 “This agreement is not subject to revocation,” and is signed by all lawyers and all parties to the suit, it is binding and cannot be changed unless all parties and all attorneys agree to do so. Even if the Court thinks the agreement reached was not in the children’s best interest, the MSA is binding unless a party proves there was fraud in creating the agreement.
Once the MSA is signed it is usually filed with the Court and then one of the party’s attorneys prepares a decree which matches the MSA. Typically, the MSA also includes a provision that the State Bar of Texas Family Law Forms Manual, most recent edition, will be used in the final decree to fully set forth the provisions that are summarized in the MSA.
Recent cases tell us there are a few corrections the Court can make to the language in a final order or decree prepared from an MSA to implement the MSA correctly in the final order.
The inability of a party to back out of the MSA once it is signed and the Court’s inability to change terms of the agreement makes this agreement the strongest type of settlement agreement available.
For the pros and cons of the other two agreements,
follow the link to the rest of the post.