If you are going through a divorce in Washington state, you may have heard the term “CR2A.” You may have been asked if you have a CR2A in place or if you will be getting one – but what is it? Is it important to have? Why does it matter?
A CR2A agreement gets its name from the court rule that authorizes it: WA Superior Court Civil Rule 2A. This rule essentially governs enforceable agreements made outside of court and has different utility for many different types of cases addressed in Washington state's Superior Court.
For a family law case, such as a divorce proceeding, a CR2A agreement refers to a contract between parties to settle the issues of their case. In many divorce cases, this tool is used in the resolution of the dissolution, either at the conclusion of a mediation or settlement conference, in order to ensure the agreement will be honored by the court. If both parties and/or their attorneys sign the CR2A agreement, the terms become enforceable in court, whereas without signatures, it will not uphold in court as a binding agreement.
A CR2A agreement can also be used to memorialize other agreements in the middle of your case, or in post-divorce or other family law cases. The bottom line is that a CR2A agreement, while not the only option, is an effective way to bind both parties to terms of an agreement quickly and efficiently without needing to enter an agreement with the court because once signed, it is usually enforceable.
Your family law attorney should be working closely with you to resolve your divorce or other family law case in a way that minimizes stress and conflict as much as possible and maximizes efficiency. The aim is to resolve your case with a settlement agreement, in mediation or sooner, and prevent the added expense and emotional toll of trial whenever possible. The CR2A agreement is a useful tool in contributing to this being successful.
Do I want one?
The short answer is YES, you likely do want a CR2A. The intention is to prevent one party from “changing their mind” after a settlement agreement is reached by ensuring the terms of the agreement are honored by the court. The hope is to bring closure and resolution to an already challenging and emotionally charged situation, and to bring finality to compromises made. CR2A agreements are enforceable just as final court orders are.
You may have a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse, and perhaps you have come to a verbal or informally written or emailed agreement about the terms of your divorce, custody situation, or child support. You may assume this is fine because everyone is abiding by the terms and nothing has been contentious.
The problem is, there is no predicting when things may change, despite everyone's best intentions. We advise you to ensure that you are protected and that your best interests are preserved. These informal “promises” put you in rocky territory and are not in your best interest. Without a CR2A agreement, whatever loose deal you had with your ex-spouse can be pulled at anytime, regardless of what adverse effect it may have on you and/or your children. The terms of your agreement are not binding and not enforceable by the court without a signed CR2A agreement that spells out those terms.
Please work closely with a skilled family law attorney who can advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf. There may be “gray area” questions that arise, such as whether an agreement signed in your living room on scratch paper would suffice, or what about an email train where it appears you are on the same page? Our family law attorneys are highly knowledgeable in this area. We will work with you from the onset to ensure your interests are best protected, or we will advise appropriately and determine the best path forward if there are questions about a prior agreement that was informally reached. We are here to help.