Temporary Orders & Case Management Conference

You’re going through a contested divorce a Judge will ultimately have to make decisions about your property, debts, any award of alimony and – most importantly – custody of your children.

Contested divorce, with discovery, and depositions can take anywhere between 8 months, and 14 months.   Until the judge makes a final order, and during the divorce case, a judge will need to make temporary orders.   This happens at a hearing called a Case Management Conference (CMC)

What Is A Case Management Conference (CMC)?
A CMC is an important hearing the Judge is required to hold within 90 days after the Answer is filed. The CMC is usually the first hearing in any contested divorce action and is usually brief. The parties and their attorneys are required to appear and participate in the CMC. If a party fails to attend the CMC, the Judge can reschedule it and order the non-appearing party to pay an award of fees to the other party.

What Happens At The CMC?
The purpose of the CMC is for the Judge to move the case forward and to the actual finish line – the granted divorce. At the CMC, the Judge, the parties, and their attorneys do the following:
• Recite all agreements reached;
• Determine the issues in dispute and direct which party has the burden of proof;
• Consider whether a prompt settlement is possible and if so, order the parties to participate in mediation or a settlement conference;
• Set the matter for an Evidentiary Hearing and/or Trial;
• Discuss and develop a discovery plan for each party’s mandatory disclosure of evidence and collection of evidence in support of his or her case;
• Enter temporary orders to keep the peace; and
• Discuss a budget for litigation costs and the source of funds for those costs.

What About Before The CMC?
Each party is obligated to do several important things before the CMC takes place. First, each party must file a Financial Disclosure Form (FDF) and provide it to the other party. Second, each party must serve mandatory disclosures (a wide variety of financial information and documents) on the other party. Third, the parties and their attorneys must hold an Early Case Conference (ECC) to discuss mandatory disclosures and other matters, and fourth, file a report about the ECC.  The report explains the issues the attorneys were able to resolve, and the ones left for the judge to decide on.

In addition, each party has the option to file and serve a Brief before the CMC. The Brief contains relevant information about the parties and the case to help the Judge prepare for the CMC.

Temporary Orders
Unless the parties have reached an agreement as to all issues, the Judge will not grant a divorce or make a final decision on any issue at the CMC – that’s what the Trial is for. The Trial is the final event in any contested divorce action and is almost always held several months after the CMC.

So, what do you do in the meantime if your spouse took all the money from the bank accounts and kicked you out of the marital residence? Or if your spouse has been preventing you from having contact with your children or refusing to provide financial support for them?

What Is A Motion For Temporary Orders?
In any divorce action and at any time before Trial, either party may file and serve a motion asking the Judge to establish temporary orders to assist the party with ongoing financial and child related matters.

After taking into account each party’s financial situation and the best interests of any minor children, the Judge can, for example, order either party to:
• Pay temporary maintenance (also known as “spousal support”) to the other party;
• Pay temporary child support to the other party and make temporary custody and visitation orders;
• Pay money toward the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs; and
• Move out of the marital residence and award exclusive possession to the other party.

Temporary orders are “band-aid solutions” to address ongoing issues while waiting for Trial. Temporary orders only remain in effect until the time of Trial, when the Judge makes all final decisions and grants the divorce.

Pre- And Post- Motion Filing Requirements
In general, before either party may file a motion for temporary orders, he or she must first attempt to resolve the issues in dispute with the other party. If the motion includes any request involving money to be paid by either party, then the moving party is required to file a timely, complete, and accurate FDF in support of the motion.

Finally, if the motion includes a request for child custody or visitation, then the moving party is also generally required to initiate mediation at the Family Mediation Center.
Failure to do any or all of the above may result in the Judge denying the motion or delaying the hearing on the motion.

Conclusion
The CMC is usually the first hearing in any contested divorce action and sometimes, is the only hearing held before the Trial. Although the purpose of the CMC is for the Judge to move the divorce case toward resolution, it is also provides the Judge an opportunity to develop impressions about the parties and initially assess the merits of each party’s positions. The importance of the CMC cannot be overstated!

Similarly, the importance of a well-written and presented motion for temporary orders cannot be overstated. The Judge relies on the information presented in the motion to make major decisions which will impact the parties’ lives for months to come. In short, the quality, content, and relevance of the information communicated to the Judge matters!

Don’t go into the CMC unprepared. Don’t file a legally inadequate motion for temporary orders. Call our experienced Divorce and Child Custody attorneys today.