We are a client-focused family law firm with the goal of optimizing your outcome through negotiation, mediation, and if necessary, litigation. We vigorously protect our client’s interests and mitigate their anticipated stress. A client’s interests are our top priority. In a divorce context, this means maximizing your parenting time with the children and maximizing your share of the marital estate.
May A Judge Set Aside A Mediated Agreement Based Upon A Child’s Best Interests?
In arguably the most consequential family law case in recent history, Clint Lawson represented a father before the Texas Supreme Court on the disputed issue of whether a trial judge has discretion to set aside a properly signed mediated settlement agreement based upon a child’s best interests. In this instance, the father objected to the entry of a final order on a mediated agreement that was not in the child’s best interests. The Court determined that parents presumptively act in their children’s best interests and parties are entitled to judgement on a properly signed mediated settlement agreement. Therefore, a trial judge has no discretion to set aside a properly signed mediated settlement agreement based upon a child’s best interests.
In re Stephanie Lee (11-0732) from Harris County and the 14th District Court of Appeals, Houston. For relator: Scott Rothenberg, Houston. For real party in interest: Clinton F. Lawson, San Antonio. The principal issue is whether a judge has discretion to set aside a properly signed mediated settlement agreement based upon the child’s best interests. The trial court, considering the father’s testimony, found the settlement not in the child’s best interest and refused to enforce it. Lee, the mother, argued that the only statutory exception to enforcing a mediated settlement is when family violence can be shown. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of Texas heard the case February 28, 2012 and delivered their opinion September 27, 2013.
Council, John. “Mediated Settlement Agreements Trump Inquiries into Best Interests of Child, Texas Supreme Court Rules in 'In Re Stephanie Lee'.” Texas Lawyer, ALM | Law.com, 27 Sept. 2013,
Justice Debra H. Lehrmann, “Protecting Our Children: The Legacy of In Re Lee.” State Bar of Texas, Texas Bar Journal, Sept. 2017,