How to Prepare for your Resolution Management Conference
Any contested Family Court matter in the State of Arizona will start with a Resolution Management Conference, more commonly referred to as an RMC. This will be your first court hearing and your first meeting with the judge assigned to your case. Here is how to prepare and what to expect.
Possibility of SettlementThe primary purpose of an RMC is to determine whether the parties have reached any agreements prior to the hearing. The order setting the hearing will likely include a directive for you to communicate with the other party to determine discuss settlement terms. This can be an uncomfortable situation for two people involved in a divorce, custody, or child support dispute. If you do not feel comfortable meeting with the opposing party in person, or speaking to them over the phone, try communicating by email. This extra layer of separation may reduce the emotional response and encourage both parties to use respectful language. If the other party is represented by an attorney, you should always direct settlement discussions directly to their counsel. If either party has a protective order against the other, consult an attorney before attempting any communication. DO NOT communicate with the other party if he or she has an order of protection against you.
Asking for ServicesIf you are unable to reach a settlement before the RMC, the judge may order that you and the other party participate in services that may either facilitate agreement in the future or assist a judge in making future rulings. A common service that is offered to parties is a Settlement Conference. This is similar to mediation, which you may or may not have participated in already. The difference between a Settlement Conference and mediation is that a Settlement Conference is overseen by a "judge pro tempor" who has the authority to enter your agreements as court orders the very same day. Another common service is a Parenting Conference. Parenting Conferences are ordered in cases where parents are unable to reach agreements regarding legal decision making and parenting time. The Parenting Conference provider will again try to facilitate an agreement. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the provider will make listen to both sides, conduct some research into both parties backgrounds and allegations, and back recommendations to the judge about what he or she believes is in the best interest of the children. Judges do not always follow these recommendations but will heavily weigh them in making a decision at trial.
Presenting EvidenceYou may already have documents or witnesses that you would like the judge to consider. You may also have pressing issues such as custody or support matters that need to be addressed immediately. However, keep in mind that then judge will not take evidence during the RMC. That will happen on a later date. Nor will the judge enter any orders that day, unless both parties agree. If the opposing party is not allowing you to see your children or is not providing financial support that you are entitled to, you will need to file an Motion for Temporary Orders to have those issues addresssed sooner rather than later.
Filing a Resolution Management StatementBoth parties must file a Resultion Management Statement 5 court days prior to the hearing. A copy of this statement must also be provided to the opposing party. You can find the Statement as a form in the Maricopa County Superior Court Self Service Center. You can also contact an attorney who may draft the statement for you.