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Alternative Dispute Resolution: Frequently Asked Questions What is a settlement conference? A pre-trial meeting between parties and their attorneys (if parties are represented) and a judicial officer acting as a neutral facilitator, who evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of their case and assists them in reaching agreement. What types of cases are eligible for a family settlement conference? All pre- and post-decree dissolution cases, paternity and maternity matters, as well as grandparent visitation cases. What are the advantages of a settlement conference?
  • Decreased cost: By settling the case and avoiding trial, parties can save the expenses associated with a traditional trial.
  • Quicker solution: The traditional trial process is often time-consuming. By settling a dispute before trial, parties avoid the possibility of a long trial and can move on with their lives.
  • Increased satisfaction: Court clients participating in a settlement conference generally experience a higher level of satisfaction with the process than those who go through the traditional trial process.
Where are settlement conferences held and how long do they last? Most settlement conferences are held at Alternative Dispute Resolution, 3rd Floor, Central Court Building, Phoenix, Arizona. In some cases, settlement conferences are held at the Southeast facility (some Mesa cases), the Northwest facility (some Northwest cases), and at judges pro tempore's offices. Who presides over a settlement conference? A judicial officer acting as a neutral facilitator (judge pro tempore) presides over a settlement conference. 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. What do I need to do to prepare for a settlement conference? Be prepared for the following: give a general description of the issues in the suit, including your views; explain all previous negotiations and results; discuss the possible consequences if your case proceeds to trial; bring any 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 with the other party. Who can attend the settlement conference? Typically, the judge pro tempore, petitioner, respondent, and counsel (if represented) are the only people included in the settlement conference; however, there are exceptions under certain circumstances. What happens if we reach an agreement prior to a settlement conference? Pursuant to Rule 5.1(c), Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, notify Alternative Dispute Resolution immediately (602-506-7884). Upon notification: The parties may present to the Court a Stipulation resolving any issues or a stipulated agreement, with accompanying documents (e.g., decree, parenting plan, etc.). Such documents are subject to the Court's review for sufficiency and will be immediately entered once approved. All parties representing themselves should go to the Law Library Resource Center to obtain the appropriate forms for submission to the Court. What happens if we reach an agreement in a settlement conference? If you reach a full or partial agreement in a settlement conference, ADR will alert the judge that you participated in a settlement conference and a full or partial agreement was reached. The trial date may be vacated for full agreements. What happens if we don't reach an agreement in a settlement conference? If you do not reach an agreement, ADR will alert the judge that you participated in a settlement conference but did not reach an agreement. Is the settlement conference taped or recorded? Only if the parties reach a full or partial settlement, then the settlement agreement is taped.

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