Notarized Contracts for Custody?

Beware of notarized agreements for custody, they simply do not hold up as an Order of the Court.

These notarized contracts for custody are not true contracts because you are not exchanging one thing for another thing, so they do not have to be upheld under contract law.

They are not mediated settlement agreements (where parents agree and sign a custody agreement with a certified mediator), so they do not have to be upheld under family law.

“When parties make an agreement brokered by a mediator, whom the court define[s] as a neutral third party, and sign a mediated settlement agreement, the Court is bound by its terms and is subject to enforcement under the family code mediation statutes.” In re E.B., 2017 Tex. App. Lexis 9741 (Tex. App. - Tyler Oct. 18, 2017, orig proc) (mem. opinion) (Cause No. 12-17-00214- CV. True mediated settlement agreements are irrevocable, and once signed shall become Orders of the Court.

These notarized agreements for custody are essentially “informal settlement agreements” that address the custody terms of the children, agreed to between parents, usually neither legally advised, and signed with a notary. The Court is not bound by the terms of these contracts and do not have to make the terms included therein as Orders of the Court.

In re E.B., the Court of Appeals in Texas goes as far as to state that in this case, where the father signed an informal settlement agreement, the father had the right to revoke his consent to the signed ISA in relation to terms for custody at anytime before the Court rendered Orders based on the ISA, even though here, the agreement had been written and brokered by the amicus attorney (an attorney that represents the best interests of the children) and the agreement contained language stating that the agreement was irrevocable. The Court also stated that informal settlement agreements were not mediated settlement agreements thus the Court does not have to enforce them and parties should not rely on being able to enforce the terms in Court. Id. In re E.B. Parties to a suit should seek mediation if their intent is an irrevocable binding agreement for their custody agreements.

It is important to say that often times these notarized agreements, while they work while they work, they often leave out important issues, rights, and duties of a parent. If the true intent of a party is to come to an agreement with the other party over their children, then neither party should refuse attending mediation and signing the agreement there. For any and all questions regarding notarized contracts for custody, informal settlement agreements, and mediated settlement agreements, please feel free to call us: 512-212-7851, Sanchez & Flores, Attorneys at Law, LLC, 2800 IH 35 S, Ste. 201, Austin, Texas 78704.

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