Enforcing a Rule 11 Agreement

In some cases, parties enter into an agreement rather than fight over the issues and it is often reflected in a Rule 11 Agreement. In order to be enforceable, the Rule 11 Agreement must either be (1) in writing, signed by all parties and their attorneys, and filed with the Court, OR (2) the agreement must be entered into the open record of the court.

Many parties and their attorneys think that as long as this happens, then the other side cannot back out of the agreement. However, this is an unfortunate misconception. If a judgment has not been entered reflecting the agreement and it has not been made an order of the Court, then the other party can try and back out of the agreement. Thus, you are concerned because you want to keep the agreement that you entered into. How do you do this? Contact your attorney at Guest and Gray, P.C. in Forney, Texas and they can walk you through the steps to enforce your Rule 11 Agreement.

Your attorney will tell you that you must file a motion to enforce and sue the other party for breach of contract. The key to remember is that a judgment cannot be entered reflecting the settlement agreement once the other party has repudiated. That is, in Stein v. Stein the 1st District Houston Court of Appeals held that if a party backs out of the agreement before a judgment is entered, then any judgment rendered after that would be void and invalid. Thus, when you seek a motion for enforcement and you are seeking to enforce the agreement as a contract, you are asking the court to enforce the actual agreement and not enter a judgment reflecting it. Once the court upholds the agreement and enforces it, then you can seek to get the court to sign orders reflecting that agreement. This is also supported by the opinion of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals in CherCo Prop., Inc. v. Law, Snakard & Gambill, P.C. There, the Court held that even though the Plaintiffs had withdrawn their consent to the agreement and this did render any agreed judgment in the future void, it had no effect on the Defendant’s motion to enforce the agreement as a contract.

One important distinction is if your agreement is a Rule 11 Agreement under Texas Family Code Section 153.007 (dealing with child conservatorship and possession), it is not enforceable as a contract. Also, unlike other Rule 11 Agreements where courts cannot alter, modify or add to, if a court feels as though an agreement regarding child conservatorship and possession is not in the best interest of the child, the court can advise the parties to submit a revised agreement or render different orders from the agreement.

As you can see, enforcing a Rule 11 Agreement can be a difficult undertaking. Therefore, it is much easier to have the court render a judgment approving the Rule 11 Agreement and its terms as the orders rather than leave it to question at a later date.

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