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.