The Texas Supreme Court has decided the Lee
mandamus case arising from Harris County. The majority opinion states:
"If a mediated settlement agreement meets [certain requirements], a party is entitled to judgment on the mediated settlement agreement notwithstanding... another rule of law." TEX. FAM. CODE � 153.0071(e) (emphasis added). We are called upon today to determine whether a trial court abuses its discretion in refusing to enter judgment on a statutorily compliant mediated settlement
agreement (MSA) based on an inquiry into whether the MSA was in a child's best interest. We hold that this language means what it says: a trial court may not deny a motion to enter judgment on a properly executed MSA on such grounds. Accordingly, we conditionally grant the writ of mandamus.
. . . .
In sum, we hold today that a trial court may not deny a motion to enter judgment on a properly executed MSA under section 153.0071 based on a broad best interest inquiry. But we certainly do not hold that a child's welfare may be ignored. Rather, we recognize that section 261.101's mandatory duty to report abuse or neglect, the numerous other statutes authorizing protective action by the trial court, and the safeguards inherent in the mediation process fulfill the need to ensure that children are protected. And they do so without subjecting MSAs to an impermissible level of scrutiny that threatens to undermine the benefits of mediation. The trial court's authority to continue an MSA hearing and to take protective action under the various statutes discussed above is triggered not by a determination that an MSA is not in a child's best interest, but by evidence that a child's welfare is in jeopardy. Thus, the mediation process and its benefits are preserved, and, most importantly, children are protected.Click here
to download the majority opinion.Click here
to download Justice Guzman's concurring opinion.Click here
to download the dissenting opinion.