Friday, August 05, 2005

When Is An Agreement Not An Agreement?

In Dorsett v. Dorsett, 902 So. 2d 947 [Fla. 4th DCA 2005] the parties attended court-ordered mediation. The Mediation Conference Report stated that the parties were still negotiating and may return to mediation [they didn’t]. Months later the former husband filed a Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement, claiming that at the office of the Wife's attorney, the parties and their attorneys settled, resolved and agreed upon all issues in the case and the former Wife won’t abide by it. The former Husband admitted there was no signed agreement and claimed there was an oral agreement which the trial judge adopted. Some of the terms of this adopted oral “agreement” related to the parties’ minor child. The Fourth District Court of Appeal held that “a trial court’s responsibility to the child cannot be abdicated to any parent, any expert” and that “a court is not bound by any agreement between the parents”.

So, although the parties may create a mediation agreement on some or all parenting issues, the court must still approve it – the parties should be aware of this, don’t you think?

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