Settlement Conferences


Questions about Family Court, Civil, and Probate Settlement Conferences

A settlement conference is a pre-trial meeting between the parties, in an attempt to settle issues and avoid trial.

Family: Marital dissolution, pre-decree cases, other cases deemed appropriate by the judge.

Civil
: Tort non-motor vehicle, tort motor vehicle, contracts, medical malpractice, and other cases as deemed appropriate by the judge.

Probate
: Contested decedent estate cases, adult guardianship, and conservatorship matters.

 

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.

 

For family cases, the settlement conference is held in the Superior Court:  Central Court Building, 201 W. Jefferson, Phoenix AZ; Southeast Regional Court Center, 222 E. Javelina Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85210; Northeast Regional Court Center, 18380 N. 40th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032;  or Alternative Dispute Resolution, Downtown Justice Center, 620 W. Jackson St., Suite 2049, Phoenix AZ. In some cases, the settlement conferences are held at locations outside the court at a location chosen by the judge pro tempore.

NOTE: THE LOCATION OF THE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE WILL BE ON THE ADR ORDER TO APPEAR; PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE LOCATION!!!

For civil and probate cases, the settlement conference is held outside the court at a location chosen by the judge pro tempore who is facilitating the session. The judge pro tempore may opt to conduct the settlement conference at Alternative Dispute Resolution, Downtown Justice Center, 620 W. Jackson St., Suite 2049, Phoenix AZ.

All settlement conference participants should expect to attend the settlement conference for at least 2 to 3 hours.

 

A 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 his or her experience and qualifications. 

Each party shall furnish the judge pro tempore with a settlement conference memorandum at least 7 days prior to the scheduled settlement conference.

Be prepared to give a general description of the issues in the suit, including your views; be prepared to explain all previous negotiations and results; be prepared to 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; be prepared to communicate your needs fully, honestly, and respectfully with the judge pro tempore and with the other party.

 

Typically, the judge pro tempore, petitioner/plaintiff, respondent/defendant, and counsel (if represented) are the only people included in the settlement conference; however, there are exceptions under certain circumstances.

 

Civil and Probate: Depending on the deadline to conduct the settlement conference (cases are tickled 90 days prior to the deadline then a judge pro tempore is appointed to conduct the settlement conference).

Family
: Majority of the cases are referred to ADR during a hearing, while parties and counsel are present.  The judge assigned to the case uses the scheduling widget to schedule the settlement conference.  Once a date/time is chosen by counsel/parties, the order to appear is generated and hard copies are provided to parties and counsel.  A few cases are referred to ADR by minute entry.  ADR then schedules the settlement conference, ex parte, by using a standalone scheduling widget.  Copies are e-mailed to counsel and hard copy mailed to self-represented parties via U.S. mail.

 

Family Settlement Conference: Except for extraordinary circumstances, failure to appear at the time scheduled for this settlement conference as ordered by the court will result in your being required to pay $100 no show fee by the assigned judge in your case. If you are represented and unable to attend your settlement conference, please contact your counsel so they can file the appropriate motion to continue the settlement conference. If you are not represented, please file the appropriate motion to postpone/continue your settlement conference to avoid paying the no show fee.

CV and PB Settlement Conferences: Failure to appear will be reported to the judge assigned to the case.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Yes. You need to notify the judge assigned to the case by filing a notice of settlement upon reaching agreements.  Please endorse the judge pro tempore and ADR on the notice of settlement.

 

Only if the parties reach a full or partial settlement, then the settlement agreement is digitally recorded or recorded on the FTR (For the Record) (when a settlement conference is held in a courtroom) (for Family cases only) or a written settlement agreement may be prepared by the settlement judge for parties' signatures (for Family/CV/PB cases).

 

Emelda Dailey
ADR Program Coordinator
Contact the ADR Office

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