Filed under: Affordable, Agreement, Arizona Family Law, Arizona Family Law Attorney, Arizona Family Law Firm, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Cheap Family Law Firm, Cheap Fees, Consent Decree, Discount Arizona Family Firm, Discount Arizona Family Lawyer, Dissolution, Divorce, Divorce Laws, Evidentiary Hearing, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Documents, General Family Law, Grandparents Rights, Great-Grandparents Rights, Maricopa County, Phoenix Family Law, Phoenix Family Law Attorney, Phoenix Family Law Firm, Post Judgment, Settlement
A settlement conference is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that the Court will generally appoint and refer parties to partake in prior to a trial or evidentiary hearing. All pre and post decree dissolution cases, paternity and maternity matters, as well as grandparent visitation matters are eligible for referral for a settlement conference.
A Judge Pro Tempore is appointed by the court to conduct the conference and is likewise provided with the authority to enter stipulated orders pursuant to Rules 66 and 67, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (“ARFLP). A Judge Pro Tempore is a neutral attorney who is court appointed to perform specific duties for the courts based on their experience and qualifications. Unlike a parenting conference, parties are allowed and advised to bring counsel with them to this conference. The experienced family law attorneys at Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC provide reliable, proven, and discounted representation for settlement conferences.
During this pre-trial meeting, the Judge Pro Tempore will act as a neutral facilitator, who will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both sides in efforts to assist the parties in reaching agreement(s). At a settlement conference, be prepared to provide a general description of the issues in the case, including your views; explain all previous negotiations and results; discuss the possible consequences if your case proceeds to trial; bring relevant financial, property, debt, and income information; bring any other relevant information for discussion, and communicate your needs fully, honestly, and respectfully with the judge pro tempore and the other party and/or their counsel.
If full or partial agreements are reached during the conference, then the ADR office will alert the assigned judge that the parties participated in a settlement conference and a full or partial agreement was reached. Keep in mind that a trial date may be vacated only if full agreements have been reached, resolving all matters.
This is just a basic overview of the settlement conference process. For more information it is suggested that you meet with an experienced Arizona family law attorney. Our law firm is well versed in settlement conference procedure and can be reached directly at 602-515-0841.
Filed under: Affordable, Agreement, Arizona Family Law, Arizona Family Law Attorney, Arizona Family Law Firm, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Cheap Family Law Firm, Cheap Fees, Consent Decree, Discount Arizona Family Firm, Discount Arizona Family Lawyer, Family Law Appeals, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Documents, General Family Law, Parenting Coordinator, Phoenix Family Law, Phoenix Family Law Attorney, Phoenix Family Law Firm, Resolution Management Conference, Settlement
If you are or have been recently involved in a Domestic Relations case in Arizona, then chances are you have experienced firsthand some variation of ADR. The purpose of ADR is to encourage resolution of family law cases using non-adversarial means to the greatest extent possible, whether through a program overseen, administered, or authorized by the court, or by a person or agency independent of the court. See Rule 66, ARFLP.
They court may provide or authorize ADR processes, that may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
1. “Arbitration” means a process in which parties agree to submit the issue(s) in the dispute to a neutral third party or parties retained by the parties for a binding decision, in accordance with the Arizona Arbitration Act, A.R.S. §§ 12-1501 to 1518.
2. “Parenting Coordinator” is a person appointed by the court to assist with implementation of court orders by making recommendations to the court regarding implementation, clarification, modification, and enforcement of custody and parenting time orders.
3. “Family Law Master” is a person appointed by the court, including a family law conference officer, to take evidence on one or more disputed issues and submit a report to the court containing findings of fact and conclusions of law.
4. “Mediation” means a voluntary confidential process in which parties enter into one or more private discussions with a neutral third party to resolve the dispute. Mediation can be conducted by a conciliation court counselor, a mediator assigned by the court from a court roster of mediators, or a private mediator retained by the parties.
5. “Open Negotiation” means a process of non-confidential negotiations between the parties conducted by a neutral third party (the negotiator) to attempt to resolve their dispute. In the event the parties are unable to resolve some or all of the issues in the dispute, the negotiator reports the disputed issues to the court.
6. “Settlement Conference” means a confidential process in which parties to a dispute meet with a judge, commissioner, or judge pro tempore acting as a neutral third party to engage in settlement discussions.
7. “Other ADR Processes.” The court may create, administer, approve, or authorize other ADR processes designed to provide the parties, who are or have been involved in, or are contemplating the filing of a family law matter, with an opportunity to resolve their dispute without court litigation.
Upon motion of the court or motion of either party to the action, the court may direct the parties to participate in one or more ADR processes listed above or to an otherwise private dispute resolution process agreed upon by the parties.
ADR generally affords parties an opportunity to negotiate and settle differences without intervention from the court. If ADR processes fail, then ultimately the court will be left with the daunting task of deciding the merits of a family law case. Under the latter, generally one party is left feeling as if they have “lost” the case, where with ADR, although concessions may be made, the parties generally both leave feeling as if they have gained something.
For more information on specific ADR processes, or to speak with an attorney versed in the area regarding any other family law issue, it is suggested that you contact the experienced, discounted, affordable family law attorneys at Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
Filed under: 25-329, Alimony, Arizona Family Law, Arizona Family Law Attorney, Arizona Family Law Firm, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Child Support, Consent Decree, Custody, Dissolution, Divorce, Divorce Laws, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Documents, General Family Law, Phoenix Family Law, Phoenix Family Law Attorney, Phoenix Family Law Firm, Response, Settlement, Spousal Maintenance, Waiting Period
The simple answer is because your elective officials have created a law that says you have to. Arizona Revised Statute § 25-329 states:
“The court shall not consider a submission of a motion supported by affidavit or hold a trial or hearing on an application for a decree of dissolution of marriage or legal separation until sixty days after the date of service of process or the date of acceptance of process.”
To put the above provision into context, the Court simply cannot finalize a decree of dissolution of marriage until at least sixty (60) days from the date in which the Respondent was served, either by acceptance of service, signature return receipt confirmation, personal service (process server) or through publication.
It is the opinion of this writer that this requirement has been put into place for two specific reasons. First, the court calendars are simply too overloaded to deal with matters within the first sixty (60) days after service upon the Respondent. Second, public policy is for the promotion of harmonious marital relations. That is by requiring parties to wait sixty (60) days before finalizing their divorce, the Court is affording spouses an opportunity to “cool” off to determine whether reconciliation can be reached in hopes that the marriage may be salvaged.
It’s worth noting that although the Court cannot finalize your divorce until at least the sixty (60) day period is met, the parties remain free to reach binding agreements pursuant to Rule 69, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure during this “waiting” period. These agreements are per se enforceable as a valid contract between the parties. Therefore, although you have to “wait” to make your divorce final, you are free to work out arrangements for property distribution, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support during this period.
If you and your spouse desire to reach formal agreement(s) during the “waiting” period it is strongly suggested that you meet with and have an experienced family law attorney draft codify your desires in accord with Rule 69.
Filed under: Agreement, Arizona Family Law, Arizona Family Law Attorney, Arizona Family Law Firm, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Consent Decree, Disclosure, Discovery, Dissolution, Divorce, Divorce Laws, Early Resolution Management Conference, ERC, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Documents, General Family Law, Phoenix Family Law, Phoenix Family Law Attorney, Phoenix Family Law Firm, Resolution Management Conference, RMC, Rule 49, Settlement
The prior installments of this series have focused on the dissolution process prior to the defending party’s filing of a responsive pleading. Part three of this series will focus on the process and procedure of a dissolution matter once both parties have appeared in the case. Meaning, a Petition and supporting documents have been filed, served, and a Response thereto filed by the defending party.
Once a responsive pleading has been filed in your dissolution matter, each party will have forty days (40) days to provide to the other “initial disclosures” outlined in detail by Rule 49, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, (ARFLP).
In addition to initial disclosures, there are many court and private alternative dispute resolution services (ADR), which either party may request referral to by the court. For a better understanding of what ADR services are available, it is suggested that you contact an experienced Arizona family law attorney or the experienced Phoenix, Arizona Family Law Firm of Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
It should be noted that at anytime, the parties can come to a settlement agreement and/or other partial agreements in accord with relevant sections of the ARFLP. Keep in mind that agreements reached should always be in writing and executed by both parties. If a full settlement is reached in your matter, you may file a notice of settlement with the court and after expiration of the required “waiting” period submit a consent decree and supporting documents to the court for processing.
In the event agreements are not reached, and temporary orders have not been requested, the court will next set either an “early resolution conference hearing” or “resolution management conference hearing”. The purpose of the resolution conferences is to afford the parties an opportunity to discuss reasonable settlement of their matter if they have not already done so. Again, at a resolution conference, the parties can agree on everything, some things, or nothing. A judge will be inclined to enter as binding orders that or those items agreed upon by the parties as a result of a resolution conference.
If a resolution conference proves unsuccessful in fully resolving the matter, then the discovery process will continue or if ready, the parties can ask that the court set a trial date in the matter. After a trial date has been set, it is important to gather and disclose all evidence that a party desires to use to support his or her positions. There are many different ways to go about collecting pertinent evidence. If you have questions or concerns about what information is or is not relevant to your case, it is again suggested that you meet with an experienced Arizona family law attorney or the experienced Phoenix, Arizona Law Firm of Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
Parties should understand that ADR and settlement is still encouraged even after a trial date has been set in their matter. Likewise, often times appraisals, custody evaluations, interviews, etc. are needed to prepare your case in the event a full settlement is not reached prior to the trial date. To this note, the family court system in Arizona is set up in a way to afford the divorcing parties with every opportunity to settle the matter on their own terms. This generally ensures that both parties are somewhat happy with the outcome of the dissolution. If agreements are not reached and a trial concludes, parties must understand that the judge and not them will make final determination regarding the terms and conditions of dissolution. In this case, more often than not, one or both parties is left feeling unhappy with the terms of dissolution.
This article is meant to be a basic overview of the dissolution process and should not be read as absolute. For more information on this or other Arizona family law matters, it is recommended that you contact and meet with an experienced Arizona family law attorney.
Filed under: Agreement, Arizona Family Law, Arizona Family Law Attorney, Arizona Family Law Firm, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Child Support, Consent Decree, Custody, Divorce Laws, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Documents, General Family Law, Phoenix Family Law, Phoenix Family Law Attorney, Phoenix Family Law Firm, Settlement
Rule 45, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP), governs the use and nature of Consent Decree’s in Arizona domestic relations matters.
Rule 45 proclaims that whenever the petitioner and respondent agree to the terms of a legal separation, annulment, dissolution, paternity, or maternity action, the parties may elect to proceed by Consent Decree, Order, or Judgment without a hearing, upon demonstration that the required appearance fees have been paid or deferred. Furthermore, for actions of dissolution or legal separation, sixty (60) days must have passed since the service of process or acceptance of service prior to the submission of the Consent Decree.
Rule 45 sets out specifics for actions of dissolution, annulment, or legal separation. For example, in such situations, a properly conformed consent decree shall include the following:
- Whether the marriage is or was a covenant marriage;
- Whether there are children common to the parties; and
- Whether the wife is pregnant with a child common to the parties.
There are other statutory requirements which must be listed in a party’s consent decree. Therefore, it is suggested that you meet with an experience family law attorney who can review your documents prior to submission.
Your consent decree becomes even more complex when children are involved. This is so since your decree will also need to include a parenting plan either separate to or incorporated in the decree itself and child support order supported by a separate or incorporated child support worksheet.
Again, the above information is just a mere overview and highlight of some of the relevant content that must be included in a properly drafted consent decree. The above list is not meant to be exclusive. To this note, it is recommended that you confer with an experienced family law attorney for complete information on what must be included in your consent decree.
Filed under: Arizona Family Law, Consent Decree, Family Law Attorney, General Family Law
A Consent Decree cannot be submitted to the court until at least 60 days have passed since the date the Respondent was served with or signed an “Acceptance of Service” for the divorce or legal separation papers. The Judge cannot sign your decree until 60 days after service. (A.R.S. § 25-329).
Thus, one must remember that when they think they have all their issues in order the other party still has a two month window to change his or her mind. Likewise it may be a smart idea to seek counsel even if you and your spouse appear to agree on everything because within this two month “wait and see” period an attorney can advise you about whether you are in essence making a “good” deal. Remember that there are a lot of issues to resolve in a divorce. When children are involved these issues can become even more complex and additional documents must be submitted with the consent decree accordingly in these situations.