Friday, April 11, 2008

What is a Rule 11 Agreement?

You may have noticed that sometimes lawyers tend to slip into legalese in court or when talking with clients or others. To be charitable, using legal terms may be an attempt to be precise, but it still tends to hamper communication with laypeople. A phrase that often comes up in family law cases, but which is often not explained, is "Rule 11 Agreement".

A Rule 11 Agreement is an agreement which is made in compliance with Rule 11 (no big surprise there) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 11 says that an agreement between the attorneys or parties involved in a law suit can be made enforceable and binding in one of two ways:
(1) if it is in writing, the agreement must be signed by the attorneys or parties making the agreement and it must be filed with the papers of the Court; or
(2) if it is not in writing, the agreement must be made (stated) in open court (while court is in session) and made part of the official record of the case.

The Rule 11 Agreement must be clear and complete. Written agreements can be typed or hand-written. If oral, the record must show that all parties consented to the agreement.

Rule 11 Agreements are used for many different issues when agreements are made during the course of a case. For example, there might be agreements on the amount of child support, a visitation schedule, when documents will be exchanged, how bills will be paid, who gets to claim the tax exemptions, and so on. They can save time for everyone and the requirements of clarity and specificity help ensure that everyone knows and understands the agreement. Done properly, the agreements are binding and can prevent a party from trying to back out of an agreement. They are frequently used when the parties are negotiating at the courthouse and operate to preserve agreements made in the course of settlement talks.

Rule 11 Agreements are a common, ordinary device to help resolve legal issues outside of court. If you are involved in a family law case, you should not be surprised to see the terms of various agreements preserved as a Rule 11 Agreement.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to explain what Rule 11 Agreement stands for and how and when it can be used. Your thoughtfulness has helped me.

Camille said...

Yes, thank you again.

Amy said...

is a rule 11 agreement enforceable by contempt?

Law Student said...

I read recently that signing a rule 11 agreement prior to trial (in, for example, a divorce) can allow you to exclude that issue at trial, ie, If client signs a rule 11 agreement to a certain custody arrangement, O/C can use that Rule 11 agreement to argue that custody is not an issue at trial because a binding agreement has been reached. Is this accurate? Thanks.

Amy said...

Law Student,
this is not exactly true, however i could see how oc would want to try that if it was beneficial. It is important to use words like "temporary" in a rule 11 regarding custody prior to trial. or "these order are in effect until final trial". something to that effect.

Average Citizen said...

I know nothing about law. I am just an average citizen who thought I was protecting myself by signing a Rule 11 agreement. Now the other party who signed is taking me to court to get out of it.

The Rule 11 that was signed by both parties and both parties lawyers says that I will allow my 16 year old son to move in with his father, but neither of us will pay child support.

Now my son is 17 and has 10 more months until 18 and school is over, his father is taking me back to court for child support and primary conservatorship (which I do not want to give up).

I cannot afford a lawyer and will represent myself. What do you guys think about this?

JK Legacy Scrapbooks said...

What are the consequences of violating a Rule 11 Agreement? And how are the penalities enforced?

Amy said...

rule 11 agreements are not usually enforceable by contempt. however, if you sone only has 10 months until he is emancipated, a case may take that long to go to trial anyways. you need to see if you qualify for some assistant in hiring an attorney. where does you son want to live? that is probably a big factor also.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for the law student what if you agreed to a rule 11 that stated you pay atourneys fee's if it the case does not settle in mediation. Then you find out the Rule 11 had a specific date on it. They agreed to the mediation offer the day after mediation.Is this proper

Dick Price said...

We cannot discuss any specific cases, so I do not post comments about them. However, in general terms, a Rule 11 Agreement is enforceable, if it is properly drawn up, just like a traditional court order. The situation described in the last post about discovering a date on the Rule 11 Agreement would not be possible. The signed Agreement would necessarily contain all the terms at the time it was signed. If it was an Agreement dictated into the record at court, the Agreement again would contain all the terms at the time of the dictation. There could be no surprise additions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about rule 11, I was curious if you could tell me, If someone agrees in a settlement to not make any further claims or motions or appeals reguarding a particular situation or suit, would they have any further recourse to do so? Basically, can they move to vacate the rule 11 agreement, say on new evidence and stop possession being awarded to the other party involved?

Anonymous said...

A Rule 11 Agreement was used to negotiate the entire terms of a divorce, including custody/visitation arrangements and child support. In an effort to get through the process an agreement was made for significantly less child support than state regulation. A review through the State was requested and the response was that the Attorney General could not assist with modification because the amount was not court ordered. From what I am reading, I am wondering if there is any way to modify after a Rule 11 or is it no longer able to be modified. Also, the part above referencing Rule 11 Agreemnts as non-enforceable for contempt. Does this include visitation and/or paying or not paying support? Please explain further. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, could you help me understand the typical pro's and con's when the other party proposes Rule 11? How could agreeing to a Rule 11 proposal help children of seperated couples?

Anonymous said...

I recently gained temporary custody of my twin daughters through a rule 11 agreement drawn up by their mothers attorney. In it it stated that all child support she is still recieving must be turned over to me imedietly. I have yet to see any of that money. What can I do? Thank you

Dick Price said...

I can't give legal advice or discuss specific cases on this blog. I would suggest that you consult with an attorney immediately.

Anonymous said...

I am getting a divorce and signed a rule 11 agreement. During this time i purchased a car for my 23 year old daughter. Unbeknownst to me now i am told that i have violated the agreement. What does this mean for me.

Amy said...

Depends on what the Rule 11 states.

Amy said...

It depends on what the Rule 11 states as to whether you violated or not.

Anonymous said...

If an agreement under rule 11 is signed by both parties (husband and wife going through divorce)and a lawyer, regarding the temporary custody and visitation of a child, is it enfoceable by law? For example if one of the parents refuse to return the child to the parent set forth in the agreement. Would law enforcement see the agreement as binding an act as if there was a court order?

Dick Price said...

My response to several of the comments here is that you need to consult with a local attorney to advise you after an investigation of the facts and a review of the wording of the Rule 11 agreement.

Obligor said...

Can a Rule 11 vacate a judgement order of contempt and release the obligor off probabtion even if the aggrement reflects a balance arrearges to be paid at a later date? In this Rule 11 the aggreement pays a portion of arreages in exchange for delayed payment at a later date.

Dick Price said...

I can't give legal advice on this blog. You should talk with your attorney with these questions. The attorneys probably need to talk and consult with the Judge.

Anonymous said...

law student,
It seems that in Texas rule 11 open court, your own attorney can agree to a binding settlement for you ignoring all your instructions, if you were not present in the court.

Anonymous said...

a strange fact in rule 11 texas, allows your attorney to bind you down by accepting conditions which you had not agreed to, in open court; if you were not present. Later papers are sent to you for you to sign and if you do not agree to sign you are determined to be breaching the contract.

curious said...

It is interesting that a Rule 11 can be signed off on by the attorneys, but not the couple divorcing. I am curious how this agreement can be binding if a mistake is made.

curious said...

I am curious on how a Rule 11 agreement made in court is binding with only the signatures of attorneys and not the parties involved? Wouldn't there be motions to file to correct any possible mistakes?

Anonymous said...

Is there a standard form to use for the Rule 11 Agreement where you just fill in the blanks?

Dick Price said...

No, there is no standard form. The agreements are made up for each situation by the attorneys.

Anonymous said...

Here is another question for Dick

Can the divorcing couple modify a Rule 11 agreement or do the lawyers have to draw up the modifications?

Anonymous said...

if a rule 11 agreement was filed and then an order in suit affecting the parent-child relationship was filed which one holds up in court or takes precedence?