Thursday, October 20, 2005

State courts to use new rules for family law cases - Arizona

State courts to use new rules for family law cases

Excerpts:

Arizona's top judge on Wednesday signed an order to implement a massive new set of statewide rules just for family law cases. Most of the rules take effect in January.

Along with divorce and child support, types of cases and issues covered by the rules include child custody, legal separation, paternity and protective orders.

With 70 percent to 80 percent of litigants in family court cases representing themselves, a prime focus in writing the new rules was to make them understandable to non-lawyers, Armstrong said.

Another significant change also explicitly allows lawyers to represent people for just part of a case, Armstrong said. "Many lawyers will not do that now because they believe there are ethical constraints."

With the change, "they can come in just for child support or just for child custody," Armstrong said. "It should allow more people to afford an attorney for the most critical issues."

In an attempt to resolve cases faster, courts now will be required to hold a "resolution management conference" early on to see if the opposing sides can be encouraged to work out their differences on key issues.

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