Can Rendition Now Be in the Future Tense? It Depends

There’s a difference between rendition and entry of a judgment. Rendition occurs when the trial court announces its decision. Entry of judgment, on the other hand, is the ministerial act of signing the judgment. Rendition can occur in open court, by a letter ruling or by the act of signing the final judgment if there has not been a prior rendition. Whichever action occurs first is the rendition. In re C.M., No. 05-12-00380-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas Feb. 6, 2014) (mem. op.) (citing S & A Rest. Corp. v. Leal, 892 S.W.2d 855, 857 (Tex. 1995) (per curiam)).

Sometimes a trial court will colloquially state something like, “Based on the testimony presented and pleadings on file, I’ll grant the divorce and render judgment in accordance with the agreement.” The question then becomes, did the court render judgment when the judge spoke those words, or was the court simply stating that it would render judgment in the future? In In re C.M., No. 05-12-00380-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas Feb. 6, 2014) (mem. op.), the Dallas Court of Appeals held that whether rendition occurred depends on the context in which such words were spoken, and that the above words constituted rendition in that case.

In re C.M. warrants mention here because it summarizes a number of court decisions in which rendition in the future tense did or did not occur when the judge spoke. They are:

Judgment Rendered

  • Judgment rendered when trial court stated, “I will grant the divorce and I will render judgment based on the agreements that I have read into the record.” Milwee v. Milwee, 757 S.W.2d 429, 430-31 (Tex. App. – Dallas 1988, no writ).
  • Context showed rendition occurred when trial court stated, in part, “I’ll enter an order approving the agreement.” Skidmore v. Glenn, 781 S.W.2d 672, 675 (Tex. App. – Dallas 1989, no writ).
  • Trial court’s statement “I’ll grant your divorce today” expressed present intent to render judgment. Baize v. Baize, 93 S.W.3d 197, 200 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. denied).
  • Trial court’s statement “I will approve the agreement and render it as an order of the court this day” constituted rendition. Henry v. City of Fort Worth, No. 2-09-065-CV (Tex. App. – Fort Worth Feb. 18, 2010, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

Judgment Not Rendered

  • Trial court did not render judgment because (1) trial court’s statements “I will grant the divorce,” “I will approve the agreement,” and “I will approve the property settlement” were “set in future tense” and (2) party’s attorney reading agreement into record stated “[p]rior to this agreement becoming a final order, we are awaiting a letter or a memorandum of understanding from the paternal grandfather.” In re S.L., No. 05-11-00560-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas Oct. 30, 2012, no pet.) (mem. op.).
  • When trial court stated “judgment will be rendered in accordance with the terms dictated into the record” and “[y]a’ll need to bring me whatever final judgment ya’ll want,” implication was that rendition would occur upon signing. Able Cabling Serv., Inc. v. Aaron-Carter Elec., Inc., 16 S.W.3d 98, 100-01 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied).

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