Jackson v. Jackson

2001 | Cited 0 times | Court of Appeals of Texas | November 27, 2001

AFFIRM and Opinion Filed November 27, 2001


Justice O'Neill

This is an appeal from a final divorce decree entered pursuant to a mediated settlement agreement. Appellant Sonja K. Jackson presents two issues in which she contends the trial court erred in entering the divorce decree because (1) she did not agree to the terms of the mediated settlement, and (2) she revoked her consent to the agreement before the decree was entered. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Sonja and Steven T. Jackson were married on April 18, 1992, and had a child during the marriage. Steven subsequently filed for divorce, and the parties agreed to participate in mediation. In the course of mediation, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. The mediated settlement agreement consists of four documents. Each document contains the following underlined statement, "This agreement is not subject to revocation." Each document was signed by Steven, Steven's attorney, Sonja, and Sonja's attorney. Although Sonja signed each document, above each signature, Sonja indicated "I do not believe this is in the best interest of my child." Steven subsequently filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Following a hearing, the trial court entered a divorce decree in accordance with the terms of the mediated settlement.

In the first issue, Sonja contends the mediated settlement agreement was void at the outset. Specifically, she asserts her signature does not reflect her assent to the agreement because she stated that she did not believe the agreement was in her child's best interests. Consequently, she maintains there was no "meeting of the minds."

Section 153.0071(d) of the family code provides:

A mediated settlement agreement is binding on the parties if the agreement:

(1) provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldface type or capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation;

(2) is signed by each party to the agreement; and

(3) is signed by the party's attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement is signed. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.0071(d) (Vernon Supp. 2001).

Although the agreement in this case meets each of the above requirements, Sonja asserts the agreement is not enforceable because there was no "meeting of the minds." The phrase "meeting of the minds" refers to the parties' mutual understanding and assent to the expression of their agreement. Weynand v. Weynand, 990 S.W.2d 843, 846 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1993, writ denied). Sonja asserts she did not assent to the terms of the agreement because her signature reflects that she "disclaimed" the agreement. We disagree that the notation above Sonja's signature shows she did not assent to the terms of the agreement. Rather, the notation shows only she did not think the agreement she did make was in her child's best interests. Parties to divorce may often disagree as to what is or is not in their children's best interests. Sonja has directed us to no authority, and we have found none, that would preclude such parties from entering into settlement agreements. We resolve the first issue against Sonja.

In her second issue, Sonja asserts the trial court erred in entering the divorce decree after she repudiated the agreement. Section 153.0071(e) of the family code requires a trial court to enter a judgment on a mediated settlement if the agreement meets the requirements of section 153.0071(d). See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.0071(e) (Vernon Supp. 2001); Alvarez v. Reiser, 958 S.W.2d 232, 234 (Tex. App.-Eastland 1997, pet. denied). Mediated settlement agreements entered into under section 153.0071(d) of the family code are not revocable. See Alvarez, 958 S.W.2d at 234; Spinks v. Spinks, 939 S.W.2d 229, 230 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, no writ); see also Cayan v. Cayan, 38 S.W.3d 161, 165 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, pet. denied). Consequently, unilateral withdrawal of consent does not negate the enforceability of the agreement. See Alvarez, 958 S.W.2d at 234. Unlike other types of settlement agreements, a separate suit for enforcement of contract is not necessarily even if a party attempts to revoke consent. See id. We have previously concluded the agreement in this case meets the requirements of section 153.0071(d). Therefore, the trial court did not err in entering judgment on the mediated settlement agreement irrespective of Sonja's attempted repudiation. See id. We resolve the second issue against Sonja.

We affirm the trial court's decree.

Do Not Publish Tex. R. App. P. 47

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