When parties to a Texas divorce case enter into a mediated settlement agreement (“MSA”) that meets the statutory requirements, the MSA is generally binding and the divorce decree must adopt the agreement. An MSA may not be enforceable, however, if it was procured by fraud or other dishonest means.
A wife recently challenged a divorce decree incorporating an MSA that she asserted was procured by fraud. A divorce decree was issued in Dubai and both parties appealed. The wife subsequently petitioned for divorce and to modify the Dubai court orders in Texas. During discovery in the Texas cases, the husband disclosed one bank account.
The parties signed an MSA that gave the wife half of a retirement account in the husband’s name, $94,000 in cash, and the real and personal property and accounts in her own name or possession. The husband received the other half of the retirement account, real property in Florida, and the real and personal property and accounts in his name or possession. The parties also agreed to cease discovery, except as to issues involving the child.