What is a Rule 69 Agreement?

Categories: Arizona Divorce, Podcasts
Speaker 1: This is Arizona Family Talk Radio, a podcast about all things family with your host family law attorney, Scott David Stewart.
Scott Stewart: Good afternoon everybody. I’m attorney Scott David Stewart and welcome to Arizona Divorce Talk Radio. Today once again I’m talking with attorney Carrie Cravatta. Carrie, how’re you doing?
Carrie: I’d doing well, Scott. How are you?
Scott Stewart: I’m doing great, thanks. Welcome back to the podcast. I hope everything’s going well with you. We have a very interesting question today, one that I don’t know that comes up all that often. We’re talking about what’s called a Rule 69 agreement in family law. Briefly, tell everybody what exactly that is.
Carrie: A Rule 69 agreement is under the Arizona Rules of Family Law procedure and it is an agreement that is binding on both of the parties if certain requirements are met. One is if the agreement is in writing, if the terms of the agreement are set forth on the record before a judge or a judge pro term at say, a settlement conference or mediation or something of that nature. Or if the agreement is set forth on any sort of audio recording device. As long as the agreement is memorialized in one of those three ways, then it is binding on both of the parties.
Scott Stewart: It sounds like Rule 69 are actually a good thing for people because you’re talking about mediations and settlements and things of those nature and that usually means we have people working together to resolve their differences, decide in their best interests or in the case of a divorce with children or custody, something that’s in the best interests of their children.
Carrie: Yes, it is. It helps move the settlement along. You can enter into partial agreements or partial Rule 69 agreements which might resolve issues related to just a portion of all of the outstanding issues in any sort of divorce or separation that the parties are going through. You can enter into an agreement with regard to maybe legal decision making, parenting time and child support and then leave other issues for the court to determine or for the parties to re-address at a later time.
Scott Stewart: If you enter into a partial agreement say, on legal decision making like you just mentioned, is that something that you would write up immediately and file with the court or is that something like you said a recording? Do you just take a recording and save it? What’s the best way to do that?
Carrie: Well, it can be recorded on any sort of audio recording device but I would always recommend that any agreement be memorialized in writing and then signed by the parties. That is another requirement of the Rule 69 but to have it recorded and in writing and signed by the parties is even better.
Scott Stewart: You just gave me another use for my iPhone. Always have a recording device now. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. Bam! We’ve got an agreement.
Carrie: I have made agreements on the “record” in front of the judge pro tem on iPhones before. Everybody e-mails the recording.
Scott Stewart: The question is, can that work on my wife? Can I get her to agree to something …? Never mind. That’s a bad, bad, bad conversation. Let’s get back on point here. If we’re entering into these agreements, what if I agree to do something and then down the road I find out new information or something happens, how do I get out of this thing? How do I get out of this Rule 69 agreement?
Carrie: The burden is going to be on you as the party that’s challenging the validity of the agreement. You’ve got to prove a defect in the agreement. Absent any fraud, undue influence and as long as the agreement is fair and reasonable, there is a very slim chance that you would be able to get out of that Rule 69 agreement.
Scott Stewart: A person needs to be really sure that this is the ultimate agreement they want to enter into, no different than if it was a comprehensive agreement that included every single issue.
Carrie: That is true. When the parties enter into a Rule 69 agreement in front of the court on the record, the court actually goes through and asks both of the parties several questions about, do they understand the agreement? If they’ve got counsel, have they talked to their counsel about the agreement? Are they free from any coercion, duress or undue influence? Have they been threatened in any way? When we talk about kids, is it in the children’s best interests? Do they believe it’s in the children’s best interests? A lot of precautions are taken so to speak, when you talk about entering into a Rule 69 agreement.
Scott Stewart: I’m sure you’ve probably entered into more of these than you can possibly remember. My question is how many of these have you been involved with that have been undone once they’ve become official in whatever form that is?
Carrie: I myself have not had any Rule 69 agreements undone. Actually thinking back a few years ago, I had a client hire me because the opposing party was trying to challenge the Rule 69 agreement and even took it up on appeal and they were denied. It did stand as a binding Rule 69 agreement on both of the parties.
Scott Stewart: The important point to know on a Rule 69 is that be pretty darn sure that’s what you want to do because it’s basically like the judge mandating it.
Carrie: Yes, it is. It becomes an order of the court.
Scott Stewart: Hopefully people are entering into agreements because they really truly want to resolve cases and help move forward with their life. Well, Carrie, thank you for your time once again and we’ll talk again soon.
Carrie: You’re welcome. Thanks for helping me.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to Arizona Family Talk Radio. If you have a family law question, please call us at 602-266-6200. That’s 602-266-6200.