What is a Rule 69 Agreement in Arizona?
When dealing with divorce or child custody cases in Arizona, parties can utilize a Rule 69 Agreement. A Rule 69 Agreement allows the parties to settle some or all of their disputes privately, leaving only the unresolved issues to be resolved by the family law court. Common disputes settled ahead of divorce trial proceedings are visitation, parenting time, child support, and how to divide assets. If both parties can come to a reasonable solution on these issues they can enter into a rule 69 agreement, which is a signed document read before the court and audio recorded in the presence of a mediator or settlement conference officer. Ultimately, the purpose of a rule 69 agreement in AZ is to save time in Arizona court proceedings so that only unresolved issues will need to be discussed in front of a judge.
How to Enter a Rule 69 Agreement in AZ
Under Arizona family law, there are certain formalities that are required in order for the rule 69 agreement to be valid and binding. Here’s how to ensure your rule 69 agreement is legal. The agreement must either be in writing, read on record in court, or on an audio recording made before a court-appointed mediator or settlement conference officer. If the agreement is in writing, both parties must sign the agreement. While the rule does not specifically require signatures, issues can arise if one or both parties have not signed the agreement.
Requirements for a Rule 69 Agreement
The agreement must be in writing and signed by the parties or their attorneys.
The agreement can be read before a judge, commissioner, judge pro tempore, or a court reporter.
The agreement must be recorded in the presence of a court-appointed mediator or a court-appointed settlement conference counselor.
Can You Enter Into a Partial Rule 69 Agreement?
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.
Does a Partial Agreement Need To Be In Writing and Filed With the Court?
A partial Rule 69 agreement can be recorded on any audio recording device but it is always recommended 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 in writing and signed by the parties is even better.
Challenging a Rule 69 Agreement
Modifying a Rule 69 Agreement
A child custody and parenting time agreement cannot be modified for at least one year, unless a child is in immediate danger.
If a parent refuses to follow an agreement but is not endangering a child, a modification hearing can be held six months from the previous order.
Domestic violence is grounds for an emergency modification of a Rule 69 Agreement. The court will restrict, reduce, or eliminate parenting time to protect the child, unless the responding parent can prove that continued parenting time is in the child’s best interest.
Enforcing the Agreement
How Do I Get Out of a Rule 69 Agreement?
If you enter into a Rule 69 agreement and agree to something that you later want to get out of, 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 based on the new information you find. Absent any fraud or 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. 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.
Coercion or duress of a party during the signing of the agreement.
Failure of a party or their attorney to sign the agreement.
An attorney signed the agreement without the client’s permission.
Have Questions About a Rule 69 Agreement in Arizona?
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.
Speaking with a qualified family law attorney near you can further clarify the purposes of a rule 69 agreement.
Check Out the Arizona Family Talk Radio Podcast on the Rule 69 Agreement
The Arizona Family Talk Radio is a podcast about all things family with your host family law attorney, Scott David Stewart.
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