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Legal Statutes: Texas

UPDATED July 20, 2016

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Subchapter A. General Provisions

back to top153.0071. Alternate Dispute Resolution Procedures

(a) On written agreement of the parties, the court may refer a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to arbitration. The agreement must state whether the arbitration is binding or non-binding.

(b) If the parties agree to binding arbitration, the court shall render an order reflecting the arbitrator's award unless the court determines at a non-jury hearing that the award is not in the best interest of the child. The burden of proof at a hearing under this subsection is on the party seeking to avoid rendition of an order based on the arbitrator's award.

(c) On the written agreement of the parties or on the court's own motion, the court may refer a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to mediation.

(d) A mediated settlement agreement is binding on the parties if the agreement:

(1) provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldfaced 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.

(e) If a mediated settlement agreement meets the requirements of Subsection (d), a party is entitled to judgment on the mediated settlement agreement notwithstanding Rule 11, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, or another rule of law.

(e-1) Notwithstanding Subsections (d) and (e), a court may decline to enter a judgment on a mediated settlement agreement if the court finds that:

(1) a party to the agreement was a victim of family violence, and that circumstance impaired the party's ability to make decisions; and

(2) the agreement is not in the child's best interest.

(f) A party may at any time prior to the final mediation order file a written objection to the referral of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to mediation on the basis of family violence having been committed by another party against the objecting party or a child who is the subject of the suit. After an objection is filed, the suit may not be referred to mediation unless, on the request of a party, a hearing is held and the court finds that a preponderance of the evidence does not support the objection. If the suit is referred to mediation, the court shall order appropriate measures be taken to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the party who filed the objection. The order shall provide that the parties not be required to have face-to-face contact and that the parties be placed in separate rooms during mediation. This subsection does not apply to suits filed under Chapter 262.

(g) The provisions for confidentiality of alternative dispute resolution procedures under Chapter 154, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, apply equally to the work of a parenting coordinator, as defined by Section 153.601, and to the parties and any other person who participates in the parenting coordination. This subsection does not affect the duty of a person to report abuse or neglect under Section 261.101.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, § 27, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 937, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 178, § 7, eff. Aug. 30, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1351, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 916, § 7, eff. June 18, 2005; Acts 2007, 80th Leg., ch. 1181, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2007.