Enforcement of a Mediated Settlement Agreement Signed Before the Divorce Was Filed

Highsmith v. Highsmith (Tex. 2019) (18-0262)

Facts: Husband and wife signed a Mediated Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) before filing for divorce. Husband later filed a divorce petition. He subsequently proved up the divorce and had judgment rendered on the MSA. Wife filed a motion for new trial. She asserted that the MSA did not meet the Family Code’s requirements because it was signed prior to the divorce being filed. She also asserted that the rendition of judgment on the MSA violated her Due Process rights because Husband did not provide her 45 days-notice under TRCP 245.

Result: Section 6.602 of the Family Code does not require that a suit for divorce be pending for an MSA to be binding on the parties. However, because Wife filed an answer to Husband’s petition for divorce, she put the matters in his divorce petition “in issue,” thus making the suit contested for purposes of Rule 245. Wife was entitled to notice prior to rendition of judgment on the MSA