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First Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Primer Distrito Judicial

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The information contained here is offered to help you represent yourself in the District Court if you do not have a lawyer.

The information offered here is NOT legal advice and may not apply to every situation. It is STRONGLY recommended that you consult with a lawyer before making decisions or taking actions in your case. Most of the information contained in this page pertains to family law cases, for example, divorce, parentage (paternity), and child support.

Court staff CANNOT give legal advice. “Legal advice” is explaining the law to you, explaining how the law may apply to your case, telling you what form you need to file, or telling you what to do in your case. “Legal advice” also includes telling you what to put in the blanks of pleading forms. Court staff CANNOT fill out the forms for you or tell you how to fill out the forms. They can explain what information the forms are asking for, but you must fill in the forms in your own words. Court staff cannot tell you what you should do in a given situation. Asking, “what would you do if you were me” is asking for legal advice!

Please do not ask the court staff for legal advice.

If you are the Petitioner, Plaintiff, Respondent, or Defendant in a court case, and you do not have a lawyer to advise and represent you, you are a “Self-Represented Litigant” (“SRL”). “Litigant” means a party to a lawsuit.

You may also be referred to as a “Pro Se Litigant”. “Pro Se” means appearing for yourself.

If you are representing yourself, you are both your own lawyer and your own client.

You will be expected to be familiar with, and follow, the statutes (laws) that apply to your case as well as the Rules of Civil Procedure, including the Local Rules, and Rules of Evidence. There are no special rules for self-represented people! The same rules that apply to lawyers apply to you. If you do not follow the law and the rules you may permanently lose important rights.

The information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and does not substitute for seeking independent legal advice regarding the handling of a lawsuit or related legal matters.


How to Use the Court's DR Program to Request a Referral to Settlement Conference

  1. Let the Court know you want a settlement conference. If you were referred to a settlement conference by a judge’s scheduling order, you must still follow this procedure. This procedure is also used to request a referral to foreclosure mediation.
    1. Obtain the proper forms: get them from the Self Help Center or from the ADR Office: call 505-455-8146 or email: sfedselfhelp@nmcourts.gov. You can also download the forms from the Court’s website. Use only these forms; do not make up your own forms.

      If you want the Court to assign a Settlement Facilitator from the Court’s list: Obtain a Request for Referral to Settlement Conference form. Complete the form. Settlement Facilitators on the Court’s list are attorneys with at least 5 years of experience in the subject matter area who have mediation training and experience.

      If you and the other party have agreed on a Settlement Facilitator (who may be, but is not required to be, a person on the Court’s list) and just need a Referral Order, obtain a “Stipulated Request for Referral to Settlement Conference”. Complete the form.

      Then make enough copies of the Request for Referral to Settlement Conference for yourself, the judge, the ADR Office, and all the parties. Make 2 sets of self-addressed, stamped envelopes to provide copies of the Request and the Referral Order to all parties or their attorneys.

    2. Then file the Request in the Court Clerk’s office.
      • Effective July 1, 2015 all attorneys are required to efile all pleadings. If you are a Court appointed attorney for Settlement Facilitation, you do not have to pay a fee for efiling Certificates of Compliance, Notices of Non-Compliance, or Requests for Replacement Settlement Facilitator. Individual attorneys must set up their own accounts to waive filing fees for these cases. Under the firm admin tab in the Odyssey File and Serve page, set up an account with a name, such as OBO State of NM or Court Appointee, and as a waiver account. When you are submitting something to be efiled, you will select the “waiver account”. If you have questions about efiling, please contact Tyra J. Martinez at 505-455-8200 or sfedtjm@nmcourts.gov.
      • Pro se parties: file the Request in the Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk’s office will keep the original. Ask the filing clerk to endorse (stamp) each of the copies. If you can’t go to the Courthouse in person, you can file by fax 505-455-8280 or mail by mailing the original and copies to the Court Clerk’s Office, First Judicial District Court, P. O. Box 2268, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2268. Be sure to include stamped envelopes, one with your name and address, and one for each party with their name and address. Include a letter asking the Court Clerk to file your Request, return endorsed copies to you and the other party by mail, and provide a copy to the ADR Office.
    3. Pro se parties: Take another endorsed copy to the Self Help Center (next to the Court Clerk’s offices), along with one set of the self-addressed, stamped envelopes. 
    4. You must also provide copies of the Request you file to all parties. Use the other set of envelopes to mail the Request to all parties. You must do this yourself; court employees will not mail copies of the Request to the other parties for you. 
  2. The ADR Office will assign a settlement facilitator, and will generate a Referral Order, which will be given to the judge’s assistant along with the envelopes.  
  3. The judge’s assistant will get the Order signed by the judge and entered in the court file, and then mail it to the Settlement Facilitator and all parties using the envelopes provided by the person who filed the Request. 

    An Order of Referral to Settlement Conference is a court order and all of its terms MUST be obeyed by every person to whom it applies! DO NOT IGNORE ANY PART OF THE REFERRAL ORDER!

  4. Each party MUST contact the Settlement Facilitator within 10 days after entry of the Order to schedule a Settlement Conference. Scheduling of settlement conferences is NOT done by the ADR Office.
  5. Each party must provide the information described on the Settlement Conference Information Sheet to the Settlement Facilitator no later than 5 business days before the date selected for the Settlement Conference. Do not return the Settlement Conference Information Sheet to the ADR Office. Fill it out completely, and be as specific as you can about the issues. The more information the Settlement Facilitator has, the better he or she will be able to help you.
  6. All the participants – parties and their attorneys - in the Settlement Conference except the Settlement Facilitator must complete a short, anonymous, confidential, evaluation of the Settlement Facilitator’s performance within 5 business days after the Settlement Conference concludes. Completed form should be returned to the Court Constituent Services Division, ADR Office as directed on the evaluation form.
  7. Within 5 business days after the settlement conference, the Settlement Facilitator will file a Certificate of Compliance with the Court Clerk.  
  8. If any participant at any time does not comply with any term of the Order, the other participants should remind him/her of the terms of the Order. If non-compliance continues, any other participant may file a Notice of Non-Compliance using the court’s form. The judge may take any appropriate action in response to the Notice of Non-Compliance.
  9. The Settlement Facilitator or any party may file a Request for Replacement Settlement Facilitator using the proper form. No explanation is required for requesting that the Settlement Facilitator be replaced. If you use this form, the ADR Office will assign a replacement Settlement Facilitator from the Court’s list. If you and the other parties agree on a replacement Settlement Facilitator, use the Stipulated Request for Replacement Settlement Facilitator. The rest of the procedures are the same as for a Request for Referral to Settlement Conference.
  10. If your case is referred to settlement conference and you do not feel that a settlement conference will be helpful in resolving it, you may ask the Court’s permission not to have a settlement conference by filing a Motion for Excusal from Settlement Conference (get the form from the FJDC website or the Self Help Center). Remember, just because you ask for excusal doesn’t mean the judge will grant your request. You must continue to comply with the Referral Order until it is modified by another court Order. 
  11. Settlement Facilitators on the Court’s list are paid $500.00, plus applicable taxes, for the first 4 hours, which may include up to an hour of preparation time. If the case does not settle during that time and the parties agree to continue, the rate is $150.00 per hour, plus applicable taxes, for the next 4 hours. If the case does not settle within that time, and the parties agree to continue the settlement conference, the parties and the Settlement Facilitator shall agree in writing upon an hourly rate to be paid to the Settlement Facilitator.  

    Usually, each party will be responsible for payment of one-half of the Settlement Facilitator’s fee, plus applicable taxes.  

    Payment for the first 4 hours must be made prior to the beginning of the settlement conference, unless other arrangements have been made in writing with the Settlement Facilitator.

    If you use a settlement facilitator who is not on the Court’s list, the Court’s fee schedule will not apply.

  12. If you feel you cannot afford the cost of a settlement facilitator, you may file a Motion for Free or Reduced-Cost Settlement Facilitation. Follow the same filing procedures described above for filing a Request for Referral to Settlement Conference.
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