A recent issue of Texas Lawyer includes the article “Family Law Council Files Rare Amicus Over Mediation Issue”.

The case is In re Stephanie Lee, No. 11-0732. It’s a mandamus challenging a trial court’s decision not to approve a mediated settlement agreement in a custody dispute.

According to the article, this case is the first time in about twenty years that the family law section of the state bar has weighed in with a Texas Supreme Court amicus brief.

The State Bar argues in its amicus brief (PDF) that the statute allowing these mediated settlement agreements limits the trial court’s discretion to second-guess the decisions made about the child’s best interests. The practical concern is that litigants are less likely to choose mediation if they fear that the trial court will simply reject the conclusions.

The State itself (through OSG) filed an amicus brief (PDF) last month taking the opposite view, arguing that the trial court has an overarching duty to look out for the best interest of the child when entering family-law orders.

Hat tip: Disputing