Divorce Case Management Conferences
What to Expect at Your Divorce Case Management Conference
With roughly 2,400 divorces happening per day, it is no surprise that courts have streamlined the divorce process. A case management conference is a common legal proceeding that helps your divorce go more smoothly. This guide will answer all your questions about how case management conferences work during the divorce.
What Is a Case Management Conference?
In any divorce, the case management conference is an important step. This is a legal proceeding that happens after any complaint is filed. The case management conference gives both sides an opportunity to sit down with the judge for their case before the court date. This is an important opportunity for both parties to explain the basic facts around their divorce. You might talk about things like whether you agree on child custody or what major assets need to be divided. The judge may ask questions, create a schedule for collecting further evidence, or refer you to one of these professionals:
- Private mediators
- Financial advisors
Do You Have to Have a Case Management Conference?
It is possible for the judge to waive your requirement for a case management conference for divorce, especially if both parties have requested to skip it. The conference may not be necessary if you are having a collaborative divorce where there are no children or large amounts of property to discuss. However, most divorce proceedings are complicated enough that the conference is useful. If the court decides to hold a case management conference for your case, it is essential that you show up. Without the input of you and your lawyers, the judge might make rulings you do not agree with. Furthermore, you may face fines or sanctions for failing to respect the court.
What Will Be Discussed During the Conference?
During your case management conference, expect to go over every major component of your divorce. Both parties will be expected to bring up what sort of property division they are seeking. Every type of property, such as homes, bank accounts, and business funds, will be discussed. If children are involved, the parties will also need to bring up custody, visitation, and child support. Just about any potential issue in your divorce may be talked about during the conference. Some topics you may talk about during a conference include:
- Who gets alimony?
- What are the joint marital assets that need to be divided?
- How much child custody does each party seek?
- Is there any abuse or threats that will require a protective order?
A lot of the case management hearing focuses on creating a schedule and plan for the rest of the divorce. The judge and your divorce lawyers will discuss things that need to happen before the divorce, like appraising your home. Then they will set up a fair timeline to ensure these things happen on schedule. The whole goal of the conference is to keep the divorce on track even if both parties are struggling to get along with each other.
Every case management conference is different, and judges have a lot of leeway with the types of orders and guidance they can give. If one party has been behaving badly, such as threatening the other or trying to overspend out of spite, the judge can place consequences for continuing to do so. A judge also has the option of telling the couples to attend mediation if it seems they have a lot of things left to debate. Judges are able to do a temporary order that addresses subjects like:
- Child custody
- Child visitation rights
- Child support
- Possession of a home
- Possession of a car
How Long Does Case Management Last?
The average case management conference for a divorce is fairly quick. In straightforward cases, it can be over in as little as 10 minutes. However, for most divorce cases, case management usually lasts at least half an hour. There are a lot of matters that can be discussed, so it is fairly common for case management conferences to be a lengthy affair. They will almost always be shorter than the actual divorce hearing though.
How Do You Prepare for a Case Management Conference?
- Find out your conference date. It’s usually about 90 days after filing.
- Consider whether you need any temporary orders for finances or custody now.
- Be prepared with a list of things you want discussed in the divorce.
- List any anticipated issues with discovery.
- Make note of any dates you will not be available for the actual hearing.
Do Case Management Conferences Matter?
Many people assume that case management conferences are simply a formality with no real bearing on the divorce. However, since it is essentially your first meeting with the divorce judge, it can actually have a big impact. Just like any other legal encounter, first impressions matter. It gives the judge a chance to meet you and start thinking about your case. You need to be prepared to mention your main points in a clear, concise manner. It is a good idea to consider whether you want to specifically request temporary custody orders, mediation requirements, or other rulings. You can also use the case management conference to get specific instructions on how to get the information you need for your divorce case.
What Happens After the Case Management Conference?
After the conference, you will follow the schedule set out by the judge. You get a case management order that clearly specifies what steps should come next. If you have any court-ordered mediation or other meetings, you will need to complete these sessions by the agreed-upon time. Most of your time after the conference will be spent in discovery. During discovery, your divorce lawyer may use these techniques to gather information:
- Interrogating the other party under oath
- Using depositions to ask the other party questions
- Formally requesting documents
- Requesting the other side to admit statements are true
- Submitting subpoenas for records and other documentation
After the agreed-upon discovery period is complete, it will be time for your divorce attorney to formulate their arguments for court. On your court date, you will present your evidence and arguments to back up your requests for property division and child custody. During this hearing, the judge can finalize your divorce or request future hearings.
Ultimately, your case management conference is just one part of the divorce process. It is an excellent tool for coordinating everything and keeping your plan on track, but there is still a lot more to do. If you want your divorce to go as smoothly as possible, you need an experienced divorce lawyer. The Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco is here to help with this challenging time. Our team assists with all aspects of divorces, child custody modifications, and relocation planning. To learn more about our services or to set up an appointment at our Hackensack, NJ office, contact us online or call 201-343-0078. We’re ready to help you with any part of your divorce, so reach out to us today.