The Maricopa County Family Department is pleased to announce a revised procedure for processing of consent decrees and other stipulated final orders that will ensure that these documents are ruled upon within 21 days of the date of lodging. The Family Department has transitioned the processing of these documents from judges to Family Court Administration, which will distribute them to commissioners to be ruled upon. This revised procedure involves the following stipulated orders: (1) consent decrees for dissolution of marriage, (2) consent decrees for legal separation, and (3) final orders that resolve all issues in an initial petition for legal decision-making and/or parenting time (“Consent Decrees/Stipulated Agreements”).
The Family Department has been working with our partners in the Clerk’s office to allow for eFiling of Consent Decrees/Stipulated Agreements through eFileAZ. (NOTE: Per Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Order 2023-35, this does not include the eFiling for intiating a case related to a Summary Consent Petition/Decree; those documents must be hand-filed.) The eFiling process is as follows:
- The filing party files a “Notice of Lodging” and includes as a “Proposed Form of Order” a single consolidated PDF document with the Consent Decree/Stipulated Agreement and all accompanying documents (e.g., Parenting Plan, Child Support Order, Child Support Worksheet, Spousal Maintenance Worksheet, Property Settlement Agreements, Income Withholding Order, etc.). These documents should not be uploaded as separate attachments; if they are, the filing may be rejected.
- Family Court Administration electronically routes the Notice of Lodging and Proposed Form of Order PDF to the appropriate judicial officer for review.
- If the judicial officer accepts the Consent Decree/Stipulated Order, they will place their signature on the appropriate pages of the Proposed Form of Order PDF and electronically file the document. A signed, file-stamped Consent Decree/Stipulated Order will appear on ECR, with a courtesy copy mailed to any parties with an address on file with the Clerk. The parties do not need to provide envelopes for eFiled documents.
- If the judicial officer rejects the Consent Decree/Stipulated Order, they will issue a Minute Entry Order which explains the deficiencies in the paperwork. The clerk of court will mail the Minute Entry Order to each party’s address on file (or the attorney, if a party is represented). No other paperwork will be returned to the parties.
Although eFiling is strongly encouraged, parties may also continue to lodge paper copies of Consent Decrees/Stipulated Agreements. Parties must paper-file case initiating paperwork for a Summary Consent Petition/Decree. The paper-filing process is as follows:
- The filing party files a Notice of Lodging, which should identify the paper documents that are being lodged with Family Court Administration (i.e., the Consent Decree/Stipulated Agreement and an itemized list of the accompanying documents). Failure to file a Notice of Lodging may result in the paperwork being rejected by Family Court Administration and/or may result in delays in processing.
- The filing party delivers a copy of the Notice of Lodging and the proposed Consent Decree/Stipulated Agreement (and accompanying paperwork) with required envelopes to Family Court Administration at one of the four regional offices.
- Family Court Administration routes the paper copies of the Consent Decree/Stipulated Agreement to the appropriate judicial officer for review.
- If the judicial officer accepts the Consent Decree/Stipulated Order, they will sign the paperwork and provide it to the Clerk for filing. The Clerk will mail copies to the parties in the provided envelopes.
- If the judicial officer rejects the Consent Decree/Stipulated Order, they will prepare and file an Order Rejecting Consent Decree, which identifies the deficiencies in the paperwork. The judicial officer’s staff will mail the Order Rejecting Consent Decree and parties’ original paperwork in the provided envelopes.
For more information about eFiling of Consent Decrees/Stipulated Agreements, including an instructional PDF, please visit the Maricopa County Clerk of the Superior Court website at: https://www.clerkofcourt.maricopa.gov/services/efiling-information/efiling-family-court-consent-decrees.
For questions about this procedure or to inquire about the status of particular Consent Decree/Stipulated Agreement, please contact Family Court Administration at 602-506-1561.