In the world of civil litigation in Texas, parties often arrive at an agreement to resolve specific issues or even the entire lawsuit. When this occurs, the consensus is documented to create an enforceable contract. However, the form that this documented agreement takes can be either an agreed order signed by a judge or an agreement under Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 11 (Rule 11 Agreement). While the two may seem interchangeable, the nuances in their enforcement, modification, and overall standing within the legal ecosystem make them distinct from one another.
Rule 11 Agreement
A Rule 11 Agreement is an accord between the parties memorialized in writing and signed by the parties and their respective attorneys. It is named after Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which essentially sets the foundation for such agreements. This rule permits the parties to file the agreement with the court. However, it lacks the court's formal approval, as it is not signed by a judge.
Benefits and Limitations of Rule 11 Agreement
Judge-Signed Agreed Order
An Agreed Order, on the other hand, takes things a step further. After the parties reach an agreement, they submit it to the judge for approval and signature. Unlike a Rule 11 Agreement, the judge's signature on the order makes it a formal judicial act.
Benefits and Limitations of an Agreed Order
The form the agreement takes often depends on the specific circumstances, the relationship between the parties, and what is at stake in the litigation. For example, in cases involving child custody or other sensitive issues, the court generally prefers to issue an agreed order to maintain oversight of the situation.
Understanding the intricacies between a Rule 11 Agreement and a judge-signed Agreed Order is vital for both attorneys and clients navigating the civil legal system in Texas. A Rule 11 Agreement is a more flexible, contract-based instrument but could involve a cumbersome enforcement process. An Agreed Order provides a stronger, more direct mechanism for enforcement but requires judicial scrutiny and approval, making it a more rigid document. Knowing when to use each can dramatically affect the outcome, enforceability, and modification of agreements in civil litigation.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 20 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 25 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.
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