A lot can change in the months and years after a big life event. Luckily, court-ordered decisions about issues like parenting time and visitation can be modified too. Post-decree mediation is a way for you and the other party in a legal case to work together to reach a new agreement after a divorce or other family law matter.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be legal advice. Contact the Arizona Legal Center to learn more about family law. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
What is post-decree mediation?
Post-decree mediation allows you to make changes to an existing legal order. For example, you may want to change parenting time responsibilities. In a post-decree situation, either the court has already made a decision on the matter in the past or the parties have entered into an agreement adopted by the court, but you now want to change the order.
In family law mediation, an impartial third party (mediator) guides the conversation between parties, and their legal counsel if they are represented, while they negotiate options. It’s important to note that the mediator is not there to impose their decision. The decisions are always up to you and the other party. Once you’ve come to a final decision, you submit a modification to your existing order to the court for adoption as a court order.
When would you need post-decree mediation?
Typically, post-decree mediation is used to handle disputes involving legal decision-making, parenting time, or child support. If the following apply to your current situation, you may want to consider post-decree mediation if you (or the other party):
- Want to change a court order about a family law matter that could be resolved through mediation
- Do not agree on what changes to make
- Want to try mediation to solve disagreements about legal decision-making, parenting time, or other matters
- Have an existing case and a final judgment, decree, or order about the matter that you want changed
How can you request post-decree mediation?
If you’d like to request post-decree mediation, Arizona courts provide instructions for how to do so. The following steps are for Maricopa County; yours may differ. Please note that this is for making the request alone. Read on for how to file a joint request with the other party.
Step 1: File the Request for Post-Decree Mediation form
Fill out the form. Take the original form and three copies to the Clerk of Superior Court Filing Counter at one of the four court facilities.
The Clerk will keep the original, date-stamp the three copies, and return the copies to you.
Step 2: Hand deliver a copy to Conciliation Services
Within the same building, go to Conciliation Services to provide one copy of the form. You will also need proof that you paid or deferred the fee (see below for details about fees).
The staff will prepare an Order to Appear for you to serve on the other party.
Step 3: Serve the papers on the other party
You must arrange for service of these papers on the other party:
- A copy of the Request for Post-Decree Mediation
- A copy of the Order to Appear for mediation
Step 4: File the Proof of Service with the Clerk of Superior Court
This confirms that the other party is aware of your request.
How to file a joint request for post-decree mediation
If both you and the other party would like to go to mediation, you will need to use a joint request form. Follow these instructions from the court to file your request:
Step 1: File the Joint Request for Post-Decree Mediation form
Fill out the form. Take the original form and three copies to the Clerk of Superior Court Filing Counter at one of the four court facilities. The Clerk will keep the original, date-stamp the three copies, and return the copies to you.
Step 2: Hand deliver a copy to Conciliation Services
Within the same building, go to Conciliation Services to provide one copy of the form. You will also need your proof of payment or deferral of the fee.
You will be asked to sign and date a Notice to Appear for Mediation and Acknowledgment. This shows that you understand the fees, the date and time of the mediation, and the consequences for failing to appear.
Give a copy to the other party and keep one for your own records.
Arizona post-decree mediation fees
There will be a fee of $100 due if you haven’t previously filed a response or other papers, and paid a filing fee in this case. A list of current fees for Maricopa County is here.
If you can’t afford the filing fee, you may request a payment plan when you file your papers with the Clerk of Superior Court. Deferral applications are available from the Law Library Resource Center.
If you’d like to make changes to an existing court order but don’t know where to start, we can help. Our volunteer attorneys at the Arizona Legal Center can walk you through the necessary steps.
For help with your family law questions, contact the Arizona Legal Center today. We offer free legal aid and consultations in Arizona, making the law accessible to all.
Disclaimer: The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We offer low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation