How Informal Settlement Can Resolve Your Galveston Divorce
December 14th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in Divorce
Not all Galveston divorces end up in a lengthy court battle. To the contrary, many divorces are resolved through formal mediation or informal settlement conferences. With informal settlement, the spouses are free to meet with or without their attorneys to discuss – and hopefully resolve – outstanding issues like division of property, child custody, and spousal or child support.
Informal settlement talks do not automatically bind either party to a resolution. However, if an agreement is reached, it is may become binding if it is in writing and signed by both sides. Under Section 6.604 of the Texas Family Code, a binding informal settlement must also contain a “prominently displayed statement that is in boldface type or in capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation.”
After an agreement is signed, the judge must still review it and grant final approval. Section 6.604 says the court is bound by any settlement terms if it finds they are “just and right.” If the court has reason to believe that this is not the case, the judge can either direct the parties to revise their agreement or schedule the case for trial.
The Risks of Reneging on a Final Settlement Agreement
While it is possible to reopen or amend a final divorce settlement under certain circumstances, a former spouse must proceed carefully. Simply trying to re-litigate issues because you later decide you were dissatisfied with the outcome is not just counterproductive. In some case it can lead to court-ordered sanctions.
Consider this long-running Texas divorce case. The wife initially filed for divorce from her husband in 2009. The parties spent two years informally negotiating a settlement. Eventually, they reached an agreement, which the court approved. As required by Section 6.604, the final agreement contained language stating it was “not subject to revocation and was binding on all parties.”
Despite this, about a year after agreeing to the settlement the wife attempted to withdraw her consent and asked the judge to set aside the agreement. The wife alleged her husband and members of his family conspired to hide assets from her. But the husband replied the wife’s motion was meritless and made in bad faith, as all of the allegedly “hidden” assets were already known to her and therefore covered by the agreement.
The judge agreed with the husband. Not only did the court deny the wife’s motion to set aside the divorce settlement, it also ordered her to pay over $32,000 in attorney’s fees to the husband, plus an additional $50,000 in the event of an unsuccessful appeal. And as it turned out, the wife’s appeal was unsuccessful. On November 3, 2017, some eight years after the original divorce filing, the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s divorce decree.
Get Advice From a Qualified Galveston Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is an emotionally charged event for many people. Sometimes that emotion overrides reason and leads parties to pursue unfortunate litigation strategies. In some cases this goes squarely against the advice of counsel–indeed, the wife in the case above was apparently “represented by at least ten attorneys during the course of her divorce proceeding,” according to the Fifth District.
Do not put yourself in this position. Divorce does not have to be a long, drawn-out battle. Work with an experienced Galveston divorce attorney who can help you obtain a divorce settlement that treats you fairly and lets you move on with your life. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates to schedule a consultation today.