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How Do Rule 11 Agreements Apply to Divorce or Child Issues?

When couples have disputed issues during divorce or any other type of legal case they must resolve them or have the court decide for them. Hearing about a Rule 11 agreement is common during divorce, whether a comment made by a judge, your own lawyer, your spouse’s attorney or seeing it referenced in a court document. It is not likely for anyone to stop and explain what a Rule 11 agreement is while a court hearing or trial session is in progress. Understanding what it means ahead of time can be helpful.

You and your opposing party may resolve any number of issues through a Rule 11 agreement, such as the following types of conflicts:

  • Custody of children
  • Visitation schedules
  • Child support payment amounts
  • Spousal support amounts
  • Responsibility for debts
  • Assets division
  • Tax implications
  • Tax exemptions

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure contains Rule 11, which is entitled Agreements To Be In Writing. The Rule states that unless otherwise provided by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the court will not enforce agreements between attorneys or parties unless the rules are in writing. The exception is agreements made in open court that are entered into the court record.

Some contracts MAY have a three-day cancellation period. However, this is not the case with a Rule 11 agreement. A Rule 11 agreement that is properly executed is more than a contract. A Rule 11 agreement can actually become the equivalent of a court order. Unless it is harmful to a child’s well-being or detrimental in some other way, once you agree to it you may have a difficult time changing it. If you and your opposing party later agree to change terms and facts support it, you can request a modification. Courts grant modifications when they find them reasonable and just and in the best interest of the child.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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