Helping Texans with a variety of family law cases, including child custody and divorce.

Judicial Admissions- How they can severely impact your case

by | Aug 7, 2023 | Family Law, Pro-Se, Self Help

Judicial Admissions- How they can severely impact your case

Admissions have strong legal effects because once a party makes an admission, intentional or not, that party is not allowed to introduce evidence, including testimony, which controverts the admission. In re A.EM., 2020 Tex.App. LEXIS 1439, at *38 (quoting In re L.C.L., 396 S.W.3d 712, 718 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2013, no pet.)).

“This rule is based on the public policy that it would be absurd an manifestly unjust to allow a party to recover after he has sworn himself out of court by a clear and unequivocal statement.” In re A.E.A., 406 S.W.3d at 410..

Admissions can come in a few different forms:

  1. Deemed or admitted Admissions
    1. although not as common as interrogatories or request for productions in family law, a party can serve a list of, essentially, accusations, on the other party. The receiving party then must answer them “admit”, “deny” or “objection. If the specific admission is admitted to then the admitting party may not introduce contrary evidence to that point. Also, if the discovery request is not timely responded to then all of the admissions, if drafted properly, are deemed admitted against the responding party. Marshall v. Vise, 767 S.W.2d 699, 700 (Tex. 1989).
  2. Judicial Admissions
    1. These are common in family law. One of the requirements to modifying an order is that there must have been a “material and substantial” change. Thus, a common issue raised on appeal by a losing party is that there was never a “material and substantial” change. Wehna  party request a modification and pleads that there has been material and substantial changes to support their requested modification they are making a judicial admission that there is also a “material and substantial” change which could support the other parties requested modification. An exception occurs when a party alleges that there has been a “material and substantial” change with respect to child support, or possession or another narrow element. That admission is only specific to the child support or possession, and nothing outside of the defined scope.  In In the Interest of A.N.G., 631 S.W.3d 471 (Tex. App. – El Paso 2021, no pet.) (holding that In these situations it can be critically important to distinguish between the asserted claims within your pleadings, by expressly stating for example, that such a change exists to support a modification of conservatorship but should not be construed as a judicial admission supporting a change warranting a modification of child support.)
    2. Assertions of fact in a party’s live pleadings that are not pled in the alternative are regarded as formal judicial admissions. Houston First American Savings v. Musick, 650 S.W.2d 764, 767 (Tex. 1983).
  3. Other sworn and clear statements
    1. Statements in affidavits, Rule-11 agreement, sworn inventories and other filings may be judicial admissions.
      1. A Rule 11 agreement was sufficient evidence of the requirements because it constituted “[a] judicial admission . . . that dispense[d] with the production of evidence on [this] issue and bar[red] the admitting party from disputing it.” See L.W., 2020 WL 2078793, at *2 (citing Lee v. Lee, 43 S.W.3d 636, 641 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2001, no pet.))

        In re C.M., No. 05-12-00380-CV, 2014 WL 470774, at *4, *7 (Tex. App.—Dallas Feb. 6, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.)(“Agreed judgments, once rendered, are contracts between the parties that excuse error and operate to end all controversy between the parties.”).
        In re A.R. (Tex. App. 2020)

Exceptions/ Non-Admissions

A judicial admission can be waived if evidence is admitted contrary to the admission and such is not objected to. Marshall v. Vise, 767 S.W.2d 699, 700 (Tex. 1989).

A judicial admission can be corrected by non-suiting specific claims or by amending pleadings. Interest of H.P.J. , No. 14-17-00715-CV, 2019 WL 1119612, at *5 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Mar. 12, 2019, no pet.) (mem. op.). Drake Insurance Co. v. King, 606 S.W.2d 812, 817 (Tex. 1980).

Also, :A statement in an affidavit may not amount to a judicial admission if it is not deliberate, clear, and unequivocal. Regal Constr. Co. v. Hansel, 596 S.W.2d 150, 154 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1979, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

Quasi Admissions

The Texas Supreme Court has held that a party’s testimonial declarations that are contrary to his position may be quasi-admissions and, generally, treated merely as some evidence. Mendoza v. Fid. & Guar. Ins. Underwriters, Inc., 606 S.W.2d 692, 694 (Tex. 1980). The weight to be given quasi-admissions is to be decided by the trier of fact. Id. A quasi-admission will be treated as a judicial admission if it appears that the following conditions are satisfied: (1) the declaration relied upon was made during the course of a judicial proceeding; (2) the statement is contrary to an essential fact embraced in the theory of recovery or defense asserted by the person giving the testimony; (3) the statement is deliberate, clear, and unequivocal; (4) the giving of conclusive effect to the declaration will be consistent with the public policy upon which the rule is based; and (5) the statement is not also destructive of the opposing party’s theory of recovery. Id.

Family Code

However, section 156.007 of the Family Code, “Certain Filings Not Admissions,” was enacted in 2021 and became effective after the date the motion to modify in this case was filed, and also ruled upon. It provides:

A party who files a motion to modify an order that provides for the appointment of a conservator of a child, provides the terms and conditions of conservatorship, provides for the possession of or access to a child, or provides for the support of a child based on a material and substantial change of circumstances may not be considered on that basis alone to have admitted a material and substantial change of circumstances regarding any other matter.