Case Management Conferences
Florida Family Law Attorney
In a Florida divorce, the court can require couples to participate in case management conferences to help their cases moves smoothly by ensuring that both spouses have complied with all procedural requirements. Although these meetings are non-adversarial, it is still vital to a client’s success to hire an experienced family law attorney who can help streamline the process and protect his or her legal rights.
Florida courts may require case management conferences between 60 and 90 days after a divorce is filed. If appropriate notice is given, either party’s attorney may also request a conference. The primary purpose of these meetings is to ensure that cases move forward properly and that both parties have complied with any procedural requirements, such as exchanging discovery, complying with a court order, or scheduling. Family law case management conferences are not adversarial proceedings, so attorneys will be unable to advocate their clients’ positions at the hearing itself.
During a case management conference, the court has the power to perform the following actions:
- Schedule or reschedule the service of motions, pleadings, and other documents;
- Set or reset the time of the trial;
- Coordinate the progress of the action, if the case includes complex litigation factors;
- Limit, schedule, order, or expedite discovery;
- Schedule disclosure of expert witnesses and the discovery of facts known and opinions held by such experts;
- Schedule or hear motions in limine;
- Pursue the possibilities of settlement;
- Require filing of preliminary stipulations if issues can be narrowed;
- Consider referring issues to a magistrate for findings of fact; and
- Schedule other conferences or determine other matters that may aid in the disposition of the action.
Non-Compliance with Procedural Requirements
If the court finds, in the course of a case management conference, that one or both of the parties to a divorce have not complied with their procedural obligations, the judge may issue an order directing the spouses to comply before a specific deadline. If a spouse violates this order, then a court can levy fines and even impose a jail sentence.
The court must give reasonable notice of a case management conference. If a party fails to attend, the court can choose to:
- Dismiss the divorce action;
- Strike the pleadings;
- Limit proof or witnesses; or
- Take any other appropriate action.
Non-Divorce Family Law Matters
Case management conferences can also be ordered for other family law matters, like adoptions. In such instances, a party can request a conference 30 days after service of a petition or a complaint. In addition to the above-mentioned rights, the court can also:
- Refer the parties to mediation, as long as no history of domestic violence exists;
- Coordinate voluntary binding arbitration;
- Appoint court experts; and
- Appoint an attorney ad litem for a minor.
Utilizing case management conferences can help families more smoothly and quickly navigate the legal system. If you are considering a divorce or are already in the process of separation, or are involved in another type of family dispute, please contact the dedicated West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.