Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Cases

Mediated Settlement Agreements

In El Paso divorce  divorce attorneys and their clients often seek to resolve disputes by submitting to mediation.  And, if the mediation is successful then the participants will sign an agreement reflecting their agreement on certain matters in dispute.

 There are some very special requirements, which if met, make the agreement irrevocable!

According to Section 153.0071(d) of the Texas Family Code, a mediated settlement agreement is  binding on the parties if the agreement;

  • Provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldfaced type or capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation;
  • Is signed by each party to the agreement; and
  • Is signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement is signed. 

If the agreement meets the requirements of Section 153.0071(d) a party is entitled to a judgment on the agreement.

Arbitration

Parties can even submit, by agreement, their case to binding arbitration.  The court can adopt an arbitration award and make it the final judgment, unless, under certain circumstances the court determines that the arbitration award is not in the best interest of the child.  The party opposing the arbitration award has the burden of proof seeking to avoid the arbitration award.

Informal Settlement Conference

Parties can also enter into an agreement after an informal settlement conference. These agreements are non-binding. This can be a less expensive way for the parties to sort out their differences under the guiding hand of their respective attorneys.

Rule 11 Agreements

After some settlement conferences the parties may enter into a Rule 11 Agreement summarizing their agreement. Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure requires the agreement be in writing, signed and filed with the papers as part of the record, or unless its made in open court and entered of record.  A party seeking to enforce a Rule 11 Agreement would need to sue under contract, alleging that the party seeking to avoid the agreement has committed a breach of contract. 

The courts in El Paso divorce and other family law matters encourage parties before the court to attempt settlement before going to court.  The courts reason that an agreed order is more likely to be honored than one that is “forced” upon the parties by the court. 

Family law can be overwhelming. If you have any questions or need the assistance of an experienced family lawyer call us at 915-593-6600 or 915-256-0579.