The Arizona Supreme Court has adopted a set of statewide rules for family law cases, which includes divorce, child custody, paternity and child support cases.
The Supreme Cout’s Committee has been working on the new rules since July, 2003. The Committee is comprised of sixteen members from around the state, including family law judges, lawyers, mediators, court administrators, mental health professionals, and others familiar with family court cases. Annette Burns has served on that Committee since its inception, and will continue to serve on the Review Subcommittee which will consider changes to the Rules over the next two years.
Some of the more significant changes in the Rules include:
*Encouragement of ADR, settlement conferences and other problem-solving mechanisms to resolve family cases short of contested hearings;
*Rules for temporary and post-divorce proceedings, which have never before existed in the Rules of Civil Procedure or on a statewide basis;
*Timing requirements that mean that parties who need to see a judge will see one earlier in a case, when families are often in crisis;
*New standards for interviews of children in family law cases;
*The creation of “limited scope representation” which allows attorneys, with the consent of their client, to represent that client in only one aspect of a family law case, such as temporary orders or a single hearing. This will allow someone to hire an attorney for the most difficult or contested aspect of a case while still representing himself or herself on other issues;
*Discovery and disclosure rules to encourage full exchange of information about all assets, debts and information relevant to a family law case; and
*A simplification of the way to finalize a divorce or paternity order when the parties agree.
The Rules took effect statewide on January 1, 2006. Changes to the Rules that were adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2007 take effect January 1, 2008. More changes are being considered by the Arizona Supreme Court which may take effect January 1, 2009.
The Rules can be viewed at the Supreme Court’s website at http://www.supreme.state.az.us/drrc/