In many divorce cases, the parties are able to avoid protracted litigation by coming to an agreement regarding issues such as alimony and the division of property. Typically, former spouses are expected to comply with divorce settlement agreements that are reduced to writing and become part of the final divorce decree. It is not unusual, however, for people to disregard the terms of an agreement and refuse to uphold their obligations, which often causes the other party to experience financial hardships. If your ex-spouse breached the settlement agreement developed in your divorce, you have options of protecting your rights, and it is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer about the breached settlement as soon as possible. The Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group are proficient at helping people safeguard their interests, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf.Requirements for Enforceable Settlement Agreements in Texas
There are several types of settlement agreements parties employ in divorce actions, including but not limited mediated settlement agreements, agreements incident to divorce, and Rule 11 agreements. Mediated settlement agreements, as the name suggests, are developed during mediation. They are binding on the parties if they contain a statement that the agreement is not subject to revocation and are signed by each party to the agreement, and, if they are represented by counsel, their attorneys. The statement regarding revocation must be prominently displayed in bold type, capital letters or underlined.
Agreements incident to divorce are written agreements that can address alimony and/or the division of community property and can be revised up until the final divorce decree is issued unless they are binding under another law. If the court finds the terms of an agreement incident to divorce to be right and just, they will be binding on the court. Further, if the court approves the agreement, it may set it forth in full or incorporate it into the final divorce decree. Once a court approves an agreement and makes it part of the judgment, it is no longer simply a contract between the parties but becomes a valid and binding judgment.
Rule 11 agreements are contracts that comply with Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that for an agreement between parties to be enforced, it must be in writing, signed, and filed with the court of record or made in open court on the record. Parties can revoke their consent to a Rule 11 agreement before the court issues judgment on it.Enforcing a Breached Settlement Agreement
If a party breaches a mediated settlement agreement, or agreement incident to divorce, or a Rule 11 agreement that is part of a final judgment, the other party to the agreement can file a petition for enforcement. If the agreement meets the statutory requirements, it will generally be deemed valid and enforceable, and the court will issue a judgment against the party that breached the agreement.
Conversely, a party seeking to enforce a Rule 11 agreement that was renounced prior to the court entering judgment on it will most likely need to pursue a breach of contract claim. This requires proof of the existence of a contract between the parties, performance of the contractual obligations by the party pursuing the claim and a breach by the other party, and damages caused by the breach (unless only performance under the contract is sought, in which case damages will not need to be proven).Meet with an Attorney in Dallas
Marriage settlement agreements are essentially contracts, and parties that breach them can be held civilly liable. If your former spouse breached or accused you of breaching your marital settlement, it is wise for you to talk to a lawyer about your options. The seasoned attorneys of McClure Law Group are adept at helping people dealing with the dissolution of their marriages to fight to protect their rights, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome regarding a breached settlement. We regularly represent people in divorce cases in Dallas, Richardson, McKinney, Rockwall, Garland, Irving, Fort Worth, and Frisco. We also aid people in family law disputes in cities throughout Dallas, Tarrant, Grayson, Denton, Collin, and Rockwall Counties. You can contact us via our online form or at 214.692.8200 to set up a meeting.