ARFLP Rule 69: Binding Agreements
Divorce, custody, and other family law cases in Arizona are governed by court rules known as the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. When parties to a case agree on one or more issues in their case, they can make it a binding agreement by following ARFLP Rule 69, which states:
(a) Validity. An agreement between the parties is valid and binding on the parties if:
- the agreement is in writing and signed by the parties personally or by counsel on a party's behalf;
- the agreement's terms are stated on the record before a judge, commissioner, judge pro tempore, or court reporter; or
- the agreement's terms are stated in an audio recording made before a mediator or a settlement conference officer appointed by the court.
(b) Court Approval. An agreement under this rule is not binding on the court until it is submitted to and approved by the court as provided by law.
(c) Challenge to Validity. An agreement under section (a) is presumed valid, and a party who challenges the validity of an agreement has the burden to prove any defect in the agreement. Under A.R.S. § 25-324, the court may award a party the costs and expenses of maintaining or defending a challenge to the validity of an agreement that was made in accordance with this rule.
Frequently Asked Questions about Rule 69 Agreements
Why Do People Enter Rule 69 Agreements?
Rule 69 agreements are valuable because they can save time, attorney’s fees, and other expenses associated with fighting over issues in court. For example, in a divorce case with children, parties are required to exchange many documents and extensive information regarding legal decision-making, parenting time, child support, spousal support, allocation of property and debt, and other issues. If the parties enter into a written agreement regarding legal decision-making and parenting time, then they won’t need to spend time or attorney’s fees fighting over those matters in court – instead, they can narrow their focus to address the remaining issues that were not included in the Rule 69 agreement.
How Are Rule 69 Agreements Made?
Legally-binding Rule 69 agreements may be made in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
- The parties can make a hand-written agreement and have each party sign it
- The parties can type and print an agreement and have each party sign it (with a “wet signature” or electronically)
- The parties’ lawyers can prepare a written agreement and each party and/or their lawyer can sign it
Do Written Rule 69 Agreements Have to Be Notarized?
No, written Rule 69 Agreements do not have to be notarized.
When Do Rule 69 Agreements Become Legally Binding?
Rule 69 agreements that are written and signed pursuant to ARFLP Rule 69(a)(1) are legally binding on the parties beginning immediately after they are signed by all parties or their lawyers.
Rule 69 agreements that are entered verbally in court, mediation, or a settlement conference pursuant to ARFLP Rule 69 are legally binding when the judge or mediator acknowledges that the agreement has been accepted.
What Problems Can Arise with Rule 69 Agreements?
As mentioned above, written Rule 69 agreements are binding on the parties as soon as the agreement is signed by each party or their lawyer. However, written agreements are not binding on the court (meaning that they are not “court orders” and cannot be enforced) until the agreement has been submitted to and approved by a judge. Also, as a practical matter, the court won’t know about your Rule 69 agreement unless it’s submitted to the court, so the parties’ and the court’s time could be wasted if parties have enter into a Rule 69 agreement but don’t submit it to the court for approval.
How Can The Webb Law Group Help with Rule 69 Agreements?
The Webb Law Group handles all aspects of Rule 69 agreements, including but not limited to:
- Advising clients on what issues should be included in Rule 69 agreements
- Negotiating and drafting Rule 69 agreements with the other party or their lawyer
- Signing Rule 69 agreements on behalf of clients, which can be helpful when for clients who live far from the court
- Representing clients in settlement conferences which may result in Rule 69 agreements
- Defending or challenging the validity of Rule 69 agreements
- Submitting Rule 69 agreements to the court for approval
- Modifying Rule 69 agreements
If you have questions or need help with a Rule 69 agreement for your Arizona divorce, custody, or other family law case, please call or text our office right away. Mention that you saw this article and we’ll give you a free 15-minute consultation about your case!