This is one of the longest phases in your divorce case, and it will typically last between three and six months depending on the complexity of your case. During this phase, things start to move forward relatively quickly, and you will likely have to go through a resolution management conference, return hearing, and/or a temporary orders hearing.
Let’s get a better understanding of what each of these things is. These cases might be non-evidentiary, as is often the case when narrowing down the issues and discussing settlements or third-party court experts. Other times, such as with temporary orders, they will be evidentiary, meaning you will need to provide evidence to support your case.
Resolution Management Conference
The resolution management conference (RMC) is going to be scheduled for most family court cases, such as divorce. These conferences are only 30 minutes long, and they are held in front of the judge who is assigned to your case. During this time, they will review your RMC statements to see whether there are any agreements. They will also come up with a plan to move your case forward.
Before you go to the RMC, you and your spouse will both be required to file resolution statements. These statements are simply a breakdown of your positions in the case where you are not able to agree. The statement will also include how you hope those issues will be resolved. The more specific you are the better. For example, if you aren’t happy with the parenting plan, the judge will want to know why and what you believe should be done to improve the plan.
The job of the judge is to look at the statements from you and your ex and see where there are agreements and disagreements. For all of the areas where there are agreements, the judge typically swears you in and puts those agreements on the record via the Rule 69 agreement. This means that those issues are no longer able to be changed since you and your spouse have both agreed to them.
For example, if you agree to the parenting plan or how certain property will be divided, it is now “set in stone”. You will need to abide by that agreement, even if you were to change your mind later. If you did change your mind on something, you would have to get a modification.
The court will want to know how you believe the remaining issues should be solved. In some cases, you might have to go to a settlement conference (alternate dispute resolution), or if there is a custody evaluation, they might appoint a Court Appointed Advisor to help provide evidence that will make it possible for the judge to make the right decision.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
These types of resolutions are becoming more commonplace, and most will have to attend them when going through a divorce. Another term used for this is pre-litigation dispute resolution. They are generally ordered by the judge when attorneys are representing both sides. However, even if you are representing yourself, you could be ordered to one of these conferences. If not, you might want to request one if you feel it could be in your best interest.
A judge will attend this resolution, as well, but it will not be the judge assigned to your case. Instead, it will be a third party. You will need to write a confidential settlement conference memorandum, which needs to be given to the judge before the conference, so they can review it. This memorandum will include your positions, as well as legal arguments and evidence that will help to justify what you want.
Each side will present their case individually, and then the judge will meet with each side separately to determine whether there are any areas where agreements could be made. With the ADR, there is often a lot of back and forth, and it can take quite a while to conclude. However, this is often for the better. The judge wants to find as many areas of agreement as possible, so more could be settled.
Even if you don’t have any settlements, it will give you a better idea of the strength of your case and what you might need to do, including evidence you need to gather, for the actual trial that will come later.
Temporary Orders Hearings
A temporary orders hearing is held in front of a judge, who will make decisions on a range of different aspects that could affect your divorce, such as custody of the children, housing, and spousal support. Often, divorces take a long time to complete, and there are often difficult financial and logistic matters that need to be handled quickly while you are going through the divorce. Temporary orders hearings can ensure that you have some protection during the divorce to keep you afloat as things are changing around you.
Either party could file for temporary orders, and the other party can then file a response or a countermotion. When the divorce is amicable, there is not usually a need to file a countermotion since both spouses will agree that it might be needed. However not all divorces are amicable, and this could mean that you have to go to a hearing to present your side of the case. The judge will look at the request, the evidence, and will then determine whether to grant the order or not.
Some of the reasons that one of these orders might be needed include having temporary child support during the divorce, or for a determination of the parenting schedule. It could also be for temporary spousal maintenance in cases where one spouse relies on the other for income, or if one spouse’s income is substantially higher than the other. They could also be used to determine who gets to stay in the marital home during the divorce.
Get Help from an Attorney
When it comes to pretrial conferences and temporary orders, things can get complex quickly. It’s easiest when you work with an attorney. They can help you get everything you need in order, and ensure you understand what is needed from you during each type of conference and meeting.