In Arizona, the family courts make a provision for separating and divorcing couples to settle some of the terms of their arrangements in private. If both parties can agree on issues such as child support, visitation and the division of assets, they can create and sign a rule 69 agreement. By having this agreement in place, both soon-to-be former spouses can concentrate on the unresolved issues in court and leave the agreed-upon matters alone.
The rule 69 agreement was created to make family law cases easier to handle. If divorcing couples can resolve some of their concerns before the court date, they can save the judge, and everyone else involved, a lot of time. If used correctly, a rule 69 agreement can reduce much of the stress of a separation or divorce. It can be abused by either party, however, which is why Arizona law has set parameters for rule 69 agreements.
Rules and Legalities of the Agreement
Rule 69 agreements are legally binding contracts. Once entered by the judge, they are difficult to modify. Because of this, rule 69 agreements must meet at least one of these criteria:
• A written document, preferably signed by both parties;
• Read for the record in court;
• Recorded by audio in the presence of settlement conference officer or a court-appointed mediator.
If either party meets one of these requirements, it’s difficult for the other to assert that they did not consent to the arrangement. It is possible to discredit a rule 69 agreement in Arizona, however, provided the challenging party can prove that something is wrong with it.
Fighting a Rule 69 Agreement
As mentioned above, it’s not easy to back out of a rule 69 agreement after it is provided to the court and approved by the judge. Once these contracts are submitted, they’re considered a court-ordered arrangement. You may be able to nullify the rule 69 agreement, however, if you can prove one of the following:
• You weren’t present when the document was created and signed;
• You were forced into agreeing to the arrangements under duress;
• The terms outlined in the agreement are not fair to you or in the best interests of your child(ren).
Bear in mind that if you don’t win your case, you can be ordered to pay your spouse’s attorney fees. It’s better to challenge the agreement only if you have unshakeable evidence that it isn’t valid or that it violates someone’s rights.
The Bottom Line
Rule 69 agreements are only meant to help couples who are separating and divorcing work together to create a plan that benefits everyone. Mediation is available to help couples collaborate on final decisions. Once they present an agreement to the court, the judge will ask both parties if it was entirely mutual, if either of them agreed to the arrangements under duress and if both parties believe the terms stated are in the best interests of everyone involved, particularly the children. In other words, the judge will give both sides every opportunity to speak up if they don’t feel good about the agreement.
Call DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC today if you have any further questions about Arizona’s rule 69 agreement.
At DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC, we know how to navigate the complexities that surround Arizona’s rule 69 agreement skillfully. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling (602) 461-7818 or sending us a message via our online request form.