A point of confusion for many in the family law context is the viability of a rule 11 agreement to settle an issue or a whole case.
Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provides that an agreement between lawyers in a case is enforceable as long as the agreement is in writing and filed in the papers of the court or read into the record of the court. However, rule 11 agreements are revocable at any time until judgment is rendered. A court may not enter an order upon a rule 11 agreement when one of the parties to the agreement has revoked his or her consent.
The recent case of Woody v. Woody, __SW3d__, No. 14-12-00762-CV, 2014 WL 1512395 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.], 2014, no. pet. h.) (04/17/2014), illustrates this point. In this case, the parties had very contentious litigation over child support. In the end, they reached a rule 11 agreement read into the record, but before judgment could be rendered by the court, the father revoked his consent. The trial court entered judgment anyway, which the Houston 14th Court found to be error.
Parties can enter into an enforceable Rule 11 agreement if it is made in open court and entered of record. If a party revokes its consent to a Rule 11 agreement at any time before the trial court renders judgment in the case, the agreement can no longer simply be “approved” by the court; instead, the enforcement mechanism is through a separate breach of contract action. Here, although the parties entered into an agreement in open court, Father subsequently requested a reduction in child support. Therefore, Father clearly withdrew his consent to that agreement before the trial court rendered judgment. Accordingly, the trial court erred by incorporating the child support agreement into the final judgment.