“I’ve entered into a Rule 69 agreement, now what?”
If you’ve entered into a Rule 69 agreement, it is likely that you and your spouse were able to come to an agreement on some or all of the issues in your divorce or child custody case.
A Rule 69 agreement is a binding settlement between the parties in a family law case. Once you’ve entered into the agreement, the Court will treat that the agreement is valid and binding. This means that the agreement is final and the Court will not change it unless one party can prove that there is a defect in the agreement. Some ways of proving a defect are to prove that the agreement was unfair, that one party did not fully disclose his or her assets, or that the agreement was coerced.
If neither party challenges the agreement, then it becomes part of your final divorce decree or child custody ruling. This allows you to focus on the issues that are most important to you because you do not have to litigate the settled issues at trial. Certain formalities are required by statute in order for the Rule 69 agreement to be valid and binding.
The agreement must either be in writing, read on the record in court, or on an audio recording made before a court appointed mediator or settlement conference officer.
Although the rule does not specifically require the written agreement to be signed, it generally must be signed by both parties. An issue with the signature can arise when one party to the agreement is not physically present when the agreement is made. To avoid any later challenge to the agreement, it is best to have both parties sign the written agreement as soon as the agreement is reached. If you are considering entering into a Rule 69 agreement, it is important that you fully understand your rights and obligations under the law.
Once a valid agreement is entered, it will be difficult to change or invalidate. The Court will not change the agreement unless one party can prove a defect or if the Court finds that the agreement is not in the best interests of the child(ren).
If you want to change or invalidate a Rule 69 agreement, you will have the burden of proving to the Court that the agreement should not be enforced. If you are unsuccessful in setting aside the Rule 69 agreement, you may also be ordered to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs.
Rule 69 agreements can be an effective way of formally settling undisputed or agreed upon issues early in your case. It allows you, your attorney, and the Court to focus on the issues that matter most to you. If you have additional questions or would like to work on settling your case, please call our office for a consultation.
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