Texas Supreme Court, Milner v. Milner, 361 S.W.3d (Tex. 2012) (03/09/12). H and W signed a MSA, in which H agreed “to transfer to [Wife] all of his beneficial interest and record title in and to” two companies. H was a partner of one of the companies and a member of the other. The latter co. had a 1% interest in the former and served as a general partner of the former. Wife objected to H’s draft of Agreed Decree of Divorce arguing it did not comply with the MSA because she had not assumed H’s status as a limited partner. H argued that the MSA only required him to transfer his interests in the companies, not his partnership status. Trial court stated it would send the parties back to mediation, but also decided to take the matter under advisement. W withdrew her consent to the MSA and trial court signed H’s draft of the Decree.
Wife appealed. COA affirmed the divorce, but reversed the property division, holding that there had been no meeting of the minds regarding the transferred interest in the companies. H petitioned for review, which Supreme Court granted. The MSA included a mediation provision in the event of a question of fact about the meaning of the MSA; the issue would be arbitrated by the mediator. The Supreme Court held that because the MSA was ambiguous as to whether the parties intended for W to be a partner, the issue should have been arbitrated by the mediator. It was improper for the trial court to resolve the dispute. It was also improper for the COA to substitute its interpretation for the trial court’s determination. The Supreme Court also said the MSA met the formal statutory requirements and should not have been set aside and the ambiguity should have been resolved through mediation before an agreed judgment was entered.
In re Stephanie Lee, No. 14-11-00714-CV, WL 4036610 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, org. proceeding) (mem. op.) (-9/13/11) (Mandamus currently pending before Texas Supreme Court) (Oral arguments heard 02/28/12) (Ruling expected before end of 2012). Mother and Father entered MSA regarding custody of the child. Mother moved to enter judgment on MSA. Father objected saying the agreement was not in the best interest of the child because Mother’s husband was a registered sex offender. Trial court found agreement not in best interest of child. Mother filed writ of mandamus to COA, which the COA denied. Mother filed writ of mandamus to Tx. S. Ct. Family Law Council filed an Amicus brief asking Tx. S. Ct. to grant mandamus.
In re K.L.D., 12-10-00386-CV, 2012 WL 2127464 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2012, no pet. h.) (06/13/12). Mother filed motion to modify divorce decree. Trial court ordered among other things that the parents mediate controversies before setting any hearing or initiating discovery in a suit for modification of the terms of the order. Mother appealed. COA held that trial judge has no authority to order mediation as a precondition to file a future motion to modify terms of conservatorship, possession or support of the child.