Pro Se Family Court Case Managers
In Florida family courts, judges can require families to participate in case management conferences. The conferences allow judges to ensure that all parties have complied with appropriate procedural requirements. Although the proceedings are non-adversarial, both parties usually obtain attorneys to ensure that their interests are protected. If neither party is represented by an attorney, a pro se family court case manager can be employed to provide assistance during case management conferences. Case management conferences can help determine the outcome of a case, so if you or a loved one are involved in a family law matter, it is vital that you retain an experienced family law attorney who can advise you.
Family court case managers provide assistance for a variety of family law actions, including:
- Dissolutions of marriage;
- Establishing paternity;
- Modifying child support agreements;
- Establishing visitation;
- Determining temporary custody; and
- Name changes.
While case managers can help ensure that no deadlines are missed and all procedural requirements are met, they cannot provide legal advice or counsel. This means that any information a person gives or receives from a family court case manager is not confidential and may be subject to disclosure. Case managers are also not permitted to help litigants fill out paperwork, although they are allowed to explain court procedures and filing requirements.
Case managers may help litigants set a hearing with a judge and review files to make sure that all of the correct forms are included. Once notified of any mistakes or missing documents, a litigant’s failure to correct the error or provide the necessary information may result in the case being dismissed. Case managers are also permitted to:
- Provide litigants with court forms;
- Inform parties of upcoming court events, such as a hearing or conference;
- Update parties on the case’s status;
- Coordinate the referral of cases to mediation;
- Ensure that reports, evaluations, and court orders are completed on time; and
- Direct litigants to other agencies and community resources for additional aid.
Aside from being unable to provide legal advice or help a party fill out paperwork, case managers are also unable to:
- Interpret court orders;
- Advise parties on what to say or write;
- Represent litigants in court or at hearings; or
- Give messages to the judge.
After a case manager informs the parties that hearing has been scheduled, it is up to the litigants to organize and present their case in court and to ensure that witnesses are present.
Pro se case managers are also required to fulfill the following general duties:
- Coordinate and monitor the progress of all assigned cases in order to help reduce court intervention;
- Determine whether the litigants or their immediate family members are involved in any crossover cases;
- Accurately complete reports for judges;
- Research case histories;
- Attend court;
- Identify cases that may present high conflict or multiple issues; and
- Notarize essential documents and paperwork.
Employing the services of a pro se family court case manager can help ensure that families adhere to procedural requirements, allowing them to more smoothly and quickly navigate the legal system. If you are involved in a family law matter, please contact the experienced West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.