A settlement conference is a pre-trial meeting between parties with their attorneys (if parties are represented) and a judicial officer/judge pro tempore acting as a neutral facilitator, who evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of their case and assists them in reaching agreement.

Settlement conferences are available for Civil, Family, and Probate matters.



At parties' request or on its own, a court may require the parties to participate in one or more pretrial settlement conferences unless the action is a lower court appeal or is subject to compulsory arbitration under Rule 72. For the complete version of Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, visit ARCP Rule 16.1

According to ARCP Rule 16.1 and Maricopa County Local Rule 3.11, the Court has discretion to direct parties in any civil case to a settlement conference to facilitate settlement.

Appropriate Cases

Tort motor vehicle non-death injuries, contracts, medical malpractice and tort non-motor vehicle claims.

The Civil Department has modified the process for referring matters to ADR settlement conferences.  In cases referred to ADR on or after 2/1/2023, parties must file a Joint Certification of Readiness for Setting Settlement Conference Under Rule 16(i). 

Parties must confirm the following information: discovery and disclosure required to meaningfully engage in the conference is complete and there are no pending disclosure or discovery disputes that would interfere with the conference, the parties have engaged in good faith settlement discussions and have been unable to reach an agreement, any anticipated private mediation has been completed or efforts have otherwise been exhausted, there are no pending or anticipated motions that need to be decided before engaging in good faith settlement discussions, the parties understand their obligations to facilitate the scheduling of the conference, the parties understand they need to attend and any representative with authority needs to be available throughout the conference, they will comply with the requirement to submit materials in advance of the conference, and they understand sanctions may be imposed if the certification is not true, the parties are not prepared to participate in the settlement conference, or they fail to participate in good faith. Counsel must also certify they have discussed Rule 16 and the certification requirement with their clients. Failure to timely file the Joint Request will result in ADR notifying the assigned judge and an order vacating the ADR referral with leave for the parties to seek another referral after completing the certification process.

Currently, court-annexed compulsory arbitration is under the Court’s Civil Division. For information about Arbitration, contact the Arbitration Office at 602-506-3850 or email: civilarbitration@jbazmc.maricopa.gov.


Duties to Consider and Attempt Settlement by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):  A.R.S Rules Family Law Procedure, Rule 66

Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution:  A.R.S. Rules Family Law Procedure, Rule 67

Appropriate Cases

 All pre-decree dissolution cases, paternity and maternity matters, as well as grandparent visitation cases.

Family Confidential Settlement Conference Memoranda Form

Download PDF | Download Word

This form is used by a self-represented party or counsel for the party participating in an ADR Family Settlement Conference.  Each party is required to furnish the Judicial Officer or Judge Pro Tempore with a separate Settlement Conference Memorandum at least seven days prior to the scheduled settlement conference.

Upon completion, DO NOT FILE this form with the Clerk of Court. Submit the form to the Judicial Officer or Judge Pro Tempore assigned to your case, via e-mail or US Mail.  The name, e-mail address, and phone number of the Judicial Officer or Judge Pro Tempore are located on the Order to Appear setting the settlement conference.

You may also e-mail the completed form to adroffice1@jbazmc.maricopa.gov. Please include the following information:

  • Case number
  • Date & time of the settlement conference
  • Name of the Judicial Officer or Judge Pro Tempore

Referral Procedures

Click on below links for the new procedures for ADR referrals:


Settlement Conference:  A.R.S. Rules Probate Procedure, Rule 22

Probate Settlement Conference Memorandum Template

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

What is a settlement conference?

A settlement conference is a meeting between the parties (and counsel, if represented) during which the parties attempt to settle issues and avoid trial. The conferences are informal and encourage discussion and creative problem solving. Settlement conferences allow the parties to be active participants in resolving their dispute rather than leaving the resolution to a judge or jury.

Eligible Cases

Family:  All pre-decree dissolution cases, paternity and maternity matters, as well as grandparent visitation cases.

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

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

Benefits of Participation

There are many reasons to take part in a settlement conference.  Some of the top reasons include decreasing cost, obtaining a quicker resolution, and increased satisfaction. 

By settling the case and avoiding trial, parties can save the expenses associated with a traditional trial.

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.

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.

Length and Location

Typically, the conference takes place outside the court at a location chosen by the judge pro tempore who is facilitating the session.

The judge pro tempore may also conduct the settlement conference at one of our court locations in downtown Phoenix, Mesa, or north Phoenix. 

Settlement conferences may also be held virtually so long as everyone agrees to a virtual settlement conference.

The process may take up to 3 hours or more.  You should set aside at least three hours to attend the conference. 

Presiding Judge

A volunteer 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. These attorneys volunteer their time to the Court and the parties receive the benefit of a no-cost opportunity to resolve their disputes.

Preparing for a Settlement Conference

Each party shall furnish the judge pro tempore with a settlement conference memorandum at least seven (7) calendar 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.

Attendance Guidelines

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.  

Additionally, for civil cases, a person with settlement authority must be available for the conference.  In some cases, a person other than the party has the authority to approve a settlement.  In those cases, the person with authority must be available for the conference.


Each judge pro tempore handles settlement conferences their own way. Generally, at the outset of the settlement conference the judge pro tempore will meet with the parties, either jointly or separately, to discuss overall observations and expectations. Typically, the parties (and counsel, if represented) will also meet separately with the judge pro tempore to discuss issues related to the dispute and potential options for resolution. These meetings are sometimes referred to as caucuses. The judge pro tempore will often visit with each side multiple times throughout the day. You should be prepared for some downtime between these sessions. You should also be prepared to answer questions from the judge pro tempore about your position and the matter in dispute.

Failure to Appear

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.

Civil and Probate Settlement Conferences: Failure to appear will be reported to the judge assigned to the case.

Reaching an Agreement

If you reach a full or partial agreement, the judge pro tempore will typically assist in documenting the agreement before you leave the settlement conference. The judge pro tempore will then notify ADR of the settlement and ADR will notify the judge that a full or partial agreement was reached. In the case of a full agreement, the trial date, if set, may be vacated.

If you do not reach resolution, the judge pro tempore will notify the Court that you did not reach agreement and ADR will notify the judge that you participated in a settlement conference but did not reach an agreement.

If you reach an agreement before the settlement conference, 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 Alternative Dispute Resolution on the notice of settlement.

Settlement Conference Recordings

Only if the parties reach a full or partial settlement at the designated settlement conference location or the courtroom will the settlement agreement be digitally recorded or recorded on the FTR (For the Record). A written settlement agreement may be prepared by the settlement judge for parties'/attorneys’ signatures.

Questions about Settlement Conferences?

Alternative Dispute Resolution Leadership

Derek Robertson

Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator

Dr. Christopher Bleuenstein

Department Administrator

Contact Us