Divorce Pretrial Procedures – general consideration
This blog post addresses divorce pretrial procedures and some trial preparation. The part on divorce pretrial procedures covers divorce-centered case resolution (management plan), settlement conferences at-issue memorandums, trial-setting conferences, and trial continuances. The parts on trial preparation provide a broad overview, with an emphasis on aspects peculiar to divorce actions.
Because there are no California Rules of Court that specifically address pretrial procedures in divorce matters, other than discovery matters California Rules Ct.3.1100, very general provisions in those rules apply. Each county usually adopts local rules for divorce pretrial procedures.
Most California courts use a “master calendar” system, meaning cases are assigned by the presiding judge for different types of divorce pretrial to various judges, and then, when ready for trial, assigned to the first available trial judge. Some local courts including Los Angeles, Alameda, and Contra Costa have established an “individual calendar” system for divorce pretrial procedures, assigning a case at the time of filing to one department for all procedures, including trial. Those courts usually have local rules on beginning divorce cases to trial, which are completely different master calendar procedures All divorce cases must be assigned to the same superior court department for all purposes, in order that all decisions in a case through judgment will be made by the same judge.
First divorce pretrial procedures – Family Centered Case Resolution Plan
The legislature has provided a process for courts to order a family-centered case resolution plan (sometimes called a case management plan). Family Code 2450-2452.The purpose of family-centered case resolution is to management to the parties in resolving dissolution actions in order to accelerate the processing of the case, reduce litigation expense, and focus on the early resolution by settlement.
This divorce pretrial procedure requires the court to review all dissolution, annulment, legal separation, paternity cases within at least 180 days of the initial filing the petition, and at least every 180 days thereafter until disposition, in order to determine the most appropriate steps to ensure a fair, effective and timely resolution. There are six divorce pretrial procedures set out in California rules in deciding whether a case is going in a timely manner. The Judicial Council has approved the Case Information—Family Law (Judicial Council Form FL-172), an optional form designed to facilitate case file review and provide judicial officers with a quick reference to general information about the case.
If, after 18 months from the filing of the petition, both parties have not participated in the case resolution process, the court does not obligate to conduct further case review until the case qualifies for dismissal or the parties started to reactivate participation in the case. After an 18-month period in which parties have failed to participate in case resolution, the case is not counted for purposes of achieving the statutory goals of case resolution.
Although the family-centered case resolution conferences must be heard by a judicial officer, they are not intended to be evidentiary hearings.
Divorce pretrial procedures- case management conference includes
Early neutral case evaluation;
Alternative dispute resolution;
Limitations on the discovery, including temporary suspension pending exploration of settlement;
Use of telephone conference calls;
Modification or waiver of requirements of procedural statutes as stipulated by the parties;
A requirement that any expert witness be selected by the parties jointly or be appointed by the court; and
Bifurcation of issues for trial.
Divorce pretrial procedure- Case Management Conference
Divorce pretrial procedure -a case management conference is meeting both parties, lawyers, if any and the judge meet to talk about how to handle the case. Most cases have Case Management Conference between 120 and 180 days from filing of the petition. Sometimes there is no needs the parties to come to court for the case management conference if every party files case management statement and other local forms necessary for the trial. It would be a good idea to call the court couple days before scheduled CMS to check if it has been taken out of the calendar.
For divorce pretrial practice meet and confer is one the necessary components before going to a case management conference. It means you need to discuss with opposing party or his or her attorney what issues, it any, could be settled.
Divorce pretrial procedures – Mandatory settlement conferences may be held on the court’s own motion or at the request of any party. Settlement conferences may also occur by virtue of local court rules, rather than by specific orders in individual cases
A noticed motion does not require, but it is appropriate to notify the opposition that the request will be made to allow them time to submit reasons that such a conference should not be ordered.
An attorney ( or party) must prepare and submit settlement conference statements no later than 5 court days before the initial date set for the settlement conference. Often, local rules prescribe the contents of the settlement conference statements in substantial detail, and by statewide court rule, the settlement conference statement must comply with any additional requirement imposed by local rule. Typically, the statement must describe the case; list the contested issues; set forth the party’s contentions on those issues, including supporting authorities; and set forth a proposal for settlement. This statement should be prepared very well because it is likely to influence the court’s and opposing counsel’s impressions of the case. Note that, in some courts, the parties are required to meet before a trial readiness or settlement conference and make a full exchange of all pertinent information.