Dennis v. Smith – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Dennis v. Smith, 962 S.W.2d 67, 74 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 1997, pet. denied), the First Court of Appeals determined that a trial court lacked authority to require mediation as a prerequisite to filing a motion to modify the parent-child relationship. Id.

There, the divorce decree explicitly provided, "Mediation is a prerequisite to filing a Motion to Modify." Id. In addition, the divorce decree ordered the parties to attend three mediation sessions to see if they could resolve their differences. Id.

Construing Texas Family Code sections 153.0071 and 153.134, the appellate court concluded that "the legislature intended that 'suits,' not 'disputes' be subject to mandatory mediation." Id.