When unrepresented parties file for divorce in Maricopa County and other counties in Arizona, the court will likely set what is called an Early Resolution Conference when the other spouse files an answer to the Petition.
It is a type of mediation.
What can I expect at an Early Resolution Conference?
Expect to talk with an attorney moderator about division of assets, debts, child custody, parenting time, child support and spousal maintenance. If there are other issues in your case, be prepared to talk about them, too.
How do I prepare for an Early Resolution Conference?
Have your positions on all of the various aspects outlined in Section 2 nailed down. This is like a mediation or bargaining process. Therefore, if you absolutely want to receive $600 per month in spousal maintenance for 6 years, then don't go in asking for that...ask for more and back down to where you want to end up.
Know what you want, why you want it, where you are going to start and what you won't expect less than. Be prepared to walk away, too. You don't have to settle anything here and you can settle some things and leave other issues on the table.
What happens if we agree on some things but not others?
The attorney moderator will take you in to see the judge to put the agreements on the record or he/she will draft an agreement for both of you to sign. In essence, what you have done is narrow the issues that will be presented at trial. Then the judge will set a trial in your case to resolve the remaining issues and typically the judge will only give you 60 minutes...total. He will NOT take evidence at this hearing and will NOT hear testimony with the exception that you have reached certain agreements.
What happens if we agree on everything?
Then the judge will enter orders and likely divorce you when the statutory time limit has been reached.
What if we agree on nothing?
Then the judge will set a trial. You can ask for other hearings, too, though, or ask the judge to order certain documents to be provided within a certain timeframe. The judge cannot, however, enter orders that both parties do not agree on.
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