FAMILY RULE 6: CASE MANAGEMENT,CASE STATUS CONFERENCE (STATUS CONFERENCE), SETTLEMENT, FAMILY CENTERED CASE RESOLUTION (CRC), LONG CAUSE HEARINGS AND TRIALS
B. CASE STATUS CONFERENCE (STATUS CONFERENCE)
C. SETTLEMENT OFFICER CONFERENCE (SOC) AND CASE STATUS CONFERENCE
D. REQUEST FOR TIAL
E. FAMILY CENTERED CASE RESOLUTION CONFERENCE (CRC)
F. MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE (MSC)
G. FAMILY LAW JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT PROGRAM
The purpose, definitions, and goals of the CRC and Status Conference are set forth in Family Code §§ 2450, 2451, and Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83. Until final disposition of the case, the parties must participate in a review of the case at a Status Conference or a CRC at least every 180 days in order to determine the most appropriate next steps to help ensure an effective, fair, and timely resolution. At each Status Conference, SOC or CRC, a further date for review will be scheduled, unless judgment has been entered.
a. In any Dissolution, Nullity, Legal Separation, Termination of a Domestic Partnership, Custody and Support, or Uniform Parentage Act case:
i. When the Petition is filed, the Clerk of the Court shall set an initial Status Conference in approximately 120 days, by completing a Family Law Notice (attached form FM-1050 ) with the Status Conference date and APJ assignment. The Petitioner shall serve a copy of the Family Law Notice on Respondent at the same time the Petition is served.
ii. If a Response is filed before the initial Status Conference, the Court shall mail a Family Law Notice form to all parties in order to provide further notice of the initial Status Conference. If a Response is filed after the initial Status Conference, and the next Status Conference is set more than 90 days after the Response is filed, the Court will advance the Status Conference to a date that is between 30 and 60 calendar days after the Response is filed. The Calendar Clerk shall mail a notice of the new Status Conference date if one is set.
iii. The purpose of the Status Conference will be to consider the completion of the procedural milestones described in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(4). In marital or domestic partnership cases, if the Petition has been served and proof of service filed, a Response has been filed or default entered, and Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure served, any party may file a Request and Order to Change Status or Case Resolution Conference Date (Attachment FM-1059) and request any of the following:
1) a new Status Conference date;
2) an SOC and Status Conference; or
3) a Family Centered Case Resolution Conference (CRC).
In any action, if a final and complete judgment has been entered, the Status Conference will be cancelled.
iv. If the procedural milestones described in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(4) have not yet been met, the Status Conference will only be continued for no more than 60 days on a sufficient showing of diligence by the Petitioner.
b. On request of either party or on the Court’s own motion, the Court may set any matter for a Status Conference at any time, or at the Court’s discretion, order the parties to attend a CRC.
(2) ORDERS AT STATUS CONFERENCE
At a Status Conference, the Court will review the status of the case and progress toward efficient resolution. At any Status Conference, the Court may:
a. Refer appropriate cases to arbitration or mediation, Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), or a Settlement Officer Conference (SOC);
b. Inform the parties of procedural steps to reach disposition in the case;
c. Set time limits and deadlines for service of process and filing proof of service, entry of default, service of preliminary declarations of disclosure, submission of judgment, or filing a request for trial;
d. Appoint an attorney for a minor child upon stipulation, or schedule a hearing to appoint a child’s attorney and/or make a fee allocation;
e. Set or reset trials, settlement conferences, or hearings, including bifurcating issues for trials;
f. Order further Status Conference;
g. Determine that the case requires a Family Centered Case Resolution Conference (CRC) under the factors described in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(7) and schedule a CRC;
h. Take any other actions permitted by law that would promote a just and efficient disposition of the case.
a. Attorneys and self-represented parties shall attend each Status Conference unless excused in advance by the Court, the case has been dismissed, or a Judgment resolving all issues has been entered. An initial Status Conference will be continued if an SOC is calendared before the Status Conference. Parties represented by an attorney do not have to attend a Status Conference unless ordered by the Court to appear.
b. In accordance with Cal. Rules, Rule 3.670, the Court has contracted with CourtCall, LLC, to provide teleconferencing services for Status Conference and CRC appearances, except for cases before a Child Support Commissioner. At least 10 calendar days before the scheduled Status Conference or CRC, an attorney or party must contact CourtCall at (888) 88-COURT to arrange the telephonic appearance and pay the required fee for CourtCall’s service. On the day of the Status Conference or CRC, those appearing by telephone must call the toll-free teleconference line designated by CourtCall at least five minutes before the Status Conference or CRC. On a case by case basis, the Court may require personal attendance at any Status Conference or CRC.
c. Any self-represented litigant who wants assistance from the Court’s Self-Help Center on the day of the Status Conference or CRC must appear in person.
d. If no party appears at a scheduled Status Conference without advance excuse by the Court, a further Status Conference will be scheduled in approximately 180 days. The Calendar Clerk shall mail a notice of the Status Conference, notifying the parties if they fail to appear in Court, the case may be subject to dismissal. A third failure to appear at a scheduled Status Conference or CRC will lead to notice sent by the Calendar Clerk that unless steps are taken by the parties to pursue the case, the case will be subject to dismissal. No further Status Conference will be scheduled unless one of the parties schedules a hearing, Status Conference, or takes other action to pursue the case.
e. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Parties who file a Request to Change Status or Resolution Conference Date (Attachment FM-1059 ) prior to the Status Conference or CRC indicating they are participating in ADR and actively negotiating or mediating their case will be exempt from the Status Conference or CRC for 180 days, and a new Status Conference will be set in approximately 180 days. If a judgment or dismissal is not filed within 180 days of the filing of Attachment FM-1059 , the Court will proceed with the Status Conference.
f. Reconciliation: Parties who file a Request to Change Status or Resolution Conference Date Attachment FM-1059 prior to the CRC or Status Conference indicating they are attempting reconciliation will be exempt from the Status Conference or CRC for 180 days, and a new Status Conference will be set in approximately 180 days. If a judgment or dismissal is not filed within 180 days of the filing of the Attachment FM-1059 , the Court will proceed with the Status Conference.
At an SOC and Status Conference, the Family Court Settlement Officer (FCSO) or temporary judge will assist the parties to settle all non-custody or visitation issues or to streamline the issues for trial. The Court may also appoint the FCSO as a discovery special master or case manager. The FCSO will conduct a Status Conference to address any outstanding procedural milestones that have not been met, and has discretion to set return SOC appointments. If the case does not settle and no further SOC appointment is set, the FCSO will set the matter for a Status Conference with the APJ, or if the case requires a CRC under Family Code § 2451(a)(2) and Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(7), the FCSO will schedule a CRC with the APJ, on a date convenient to the parties and the Court, but in no event more than 180 days after the completion of the SOC. Parties attending an SOC will have satisfied the requirement to attend a Status Conference for that 180 day period. Another Status Conference, SOC, or CRC will be scheduled at the conclusion of the SOC to meet the scheduling requirements for the next 180 day period.
a. Attorneys or self-represented parties may agree to request an SOC by submitting a letter to the Calendar Clerk at any time, no later than 40 calendar days before the Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC).
b. A party may also request an SOC when filing a Request for Trial (attached form FM-1012 ).
c. The Court may order the parties to an SOC, even over an objection, at any time.
a. Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure shall be served by all parties within the time frame specified in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83, and in all cases at least 10 days prior to the SOC.
b. All attorneys and parties shall attend the SOC in person, although the Court may permit parties to attend by telephone or video conference by advance order.
c. No Settlement Conference Statement is required at the SOC, but the parties should have available all necessary information.
(1) Trials may be requested at a Status Conference, at a CRC, or in a filed Request for Trial, a local form that is not required. (See attached form FM-1012 ) A Request for Trial, however, shall not be used for trials on custody or visitation issues or Domestic Violence Prevention Act restraining orders. After the Request for Trial is filed, the Court will schedule a CRC.
(2) If one party files a Request for Trial and the other party contends that the matter is not ready for trial or disagrees with the time estimate, that party must file a Request for Trial form (attached form FM-1012 ), explaining that disagreement.
a. In any Dissolution, Nullity, Legal Separation, Termination of a Domestic Partnership, Custody and Support, or Uniform Parentage Act case, a CRC may be scheduled as follows:
1) at the direction of the Court at any time;
2) at the request of the FCSO; 2) at the request of the FLFO;
3) at the request of a party approved by the Court; or,
4) following a Request for Trial.
b. In deciding that a case requires a CRC, the Court should consider, in addition to procedural milestones, the factors described in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(7).
c. In order to change the date of a CRC in advance without attending, attorneys or self-represented parties must complete and submit a Request and Order to Change Case Status or Resolution Conference Date (Attachment FM-1059 ) at least 10 calendar days before the CRC. Appearance at the CRC is required unless the judicial officer approves the change.
(2) FAMILY CASE CENTERED CASE RESOLUTION PLAN (FCCRP) ORDERS AT CRC
At a CRC, the Court will review the status of the case and progress toward efficient resolution. At any CRC, the Court may:
a. Make any of the orders that could be made at a Status Conference;
b. Limit, schedule, or expedite discovery, including the disclosure of expert witnesses;
c. Appoint court experts upon stipulation and allocate their expenses, or schedule a hearing for appointment of Court experts and the allocation of the expenses;
d. Appoint an attorney for a minor child upon stipulation or schedule a hearing on the appointment and the fee allocation;
e. Order or review a Family Centered Case Resolution Plan in accordance with Family Code §§ 2450 and 2451;
f. Set or reset trials, settlement conferences, or hearings, including bifurcating issues for trials;
g. Make orders relating to subpoenas issued to Family Court Services personnel;
h. Order further Status Conference or CRC; and
i. Take any other actions permitted by law that would promote a just and efficient disposition of the case.
a. Attorneys and self-represented parties shall attend each CRC unless excused in advance by the Court, the case has been dismissed, or a Judgment resolving all issues has been entered. The Court may permit parties to attend by telephone by advance order as provided above in Rule 6(B)(3)b. Parties represented by an attorney do not have to attend a CRC unless ordered by the Court to appear.
b. If the Court determines that appearances at a CRC are not necessary, the Court may notify the parties and, if stipulated, issue a FCCRP order without an appearance at a conference.
(4) STATUS OR CASE RESOLUTION CONFERENCE QUESTIONNAIRE
If a party requests a trial or long cause hearing, each self-represented party or attorney shall file and serve on the other self-represented party or attorney a completed Status or Case Resolution Conference Questionnaire (attached form FM-1010 ) at least 10 calendar days before any scheduled Status Conference or CRC. If no trial or long cause hearing has been requested, the Questionnaire (attached form FM-1010 ) is optional. If a Questionnaire is filed by a party, that party shall bring two copies of his or her Questionnaire to the Status Conference or CRC.
(1) CALENDAR(Eff. 1/01/13)
a. An MSC shall be set in all family law cases set for trial. An MSC may be set for any long cause hearing. The MSC shall be conducted approximately two weeks before trial or hearing. Family law matters are usually set for an MSC and trial or long-cause hearing at Status Conference, CRC, or a Custody Settlement Conference.
b. Once a trial (or long cause hearing) and MSC are set, no continuances will be granted except upon noticed motion for good cause. The parties may stipulate that the matter may go off calendar subject to Court approval, by notifying the clerk of the APJ and the calendar secretary at least one week before the scheduled trial date or MSC. Any case that has been taken off the trial calendar by stipulation, can be restored to the trial calendar either by noticed motion or by requesting a further Status Conference or CRC.
(2) MANDATORY ATTENDANCE
All parties shall attend the MSC fully prepared for trial on all calendared unresolved issues. Attorneys shall hold at least one face-to-face or telephone settlement discussion and have made a full exchange of all relevant information before the MSC. If a party lives outside of California, the Court may exempt that party from appearing if requested in advance, and (1) the party is available on telephone standby and (2) the other party has been previously notified by letter.
(3) SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE STATEMENT
At least 10 calendar days before the MSC, or 15 calendar days if service is by mail, each party shall file and serve on the other party a Settlement Conference Statement. If the case has been previously set for an MSC, the Settlement Conference Statement previously filed may be resubmitted by letter. The Settlement Conference Statement shall contain detailed statements of the party’s position on each issue to be decided at the long cause hearing or trial. If some issues were previously resolved, the Settlement Conference Statement shall describe that resolution and refer to any filed supporting documents. If attachments to the Settlement Conference Statement collectively exceed 20 pages, the attachments should be lodged with the Court separately from the Statement, and will be returned to the party at the conclusion of the MSC.
G. FAMILY LAW JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT PROGRAM
Parties may apply at the earliest opportunity to participate in a settlement session with a sitting judicial officer who has agreed to participate in the program. The program is governed by the following rules:(Eff. 1/01/13)
(1) ELIGIBILITY/CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION
a. The case will consume significant court resources, and would be set for a lengthy trial in the Civil Division.
b. The parties and their attorneys represent in good faith that they desire to resolve the case, and that they agree to participate in a settlement session with an agreed-upon judicial officer.
c. The parties are prepared to complete a settlement session as soon as the case is accepted into the program.
d. The Court has obtained jurisdiction over all necessary parties so that a resolution resulting from a settlement session will be final.
e. The Supervising Family Judge accepts the case for the program despite the failure to satisfy one or more of the above-stated criteria.
f. This settlement program may not be appropriate in cases involving domestic violence. If requested in such cases, the Settlement Judge may schedule separate sessions with the parties, or provide separate locations for the parties during the session.
a. Application must be made on the Family Law Judicial Settlement Program Stipulation and Order form (See attached form FM-1119 ). The application must be signed by all counsel and self-represented parties. The All-Purpose Judge (APJ) also may request that certain cases apply to the program, with the agreement of all parties and counsel.
b. The application must be submitted to and approved by the Family Supervising Judge.
c. When the application is approved, counsel and/or self-represented parties must promptly contact the department of the judge selected to conduct the settlement session, to schedule the session. Settlement sessions will be conducted on a day selected by the Settlement Judge.
d. When the application is approved, all law and motion and discovery proceedings shall be stayed until completion of the settlement session, except as otherwise agreed by the parties or ordered by the Court.
a. The settlement session shall commence within 30 days of approval of the application, and shall be completed no later than 60 days after approval of the application, except as otherwise ordered by the Court.
b. The case will be set for Settlement and Case Status Review approximately 70 days after approval of the application with the APJ.
(4) PERSONS ATTENDING/STATEMENTS
a. Lead trial counsel, parties, and persons with full authority to settle the case must personally attend the settlement session, unless excused by the Settlement Judge for good cause. If financial issues are to be discussed, the parties shall bring their financial experts to the settlement session, unless excused by the Settlement Judge for good cause. The financial experts shall confer prior to the settlement session to identify areas of agreement and/or disagreement. If any consent to settle is required for any reason, the person or persons with that consensual authority must be personally present at the settlement session, unless excused by the Settlement Judge for good cause.
b. Counsel and self-represented parties must submit to the Settlement Judge and serve on all parties, but not file, full written statements of their position regarding settlement no later than five calendar days before the settlement session.
(5) SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
a. A settlement conference conducted under the Family Law Judicial Settlement Program is conducted under Family Code § 2451. There is no provision for confidentiality of communication, unless otherwise provided in Evidence Code § 1152 (a) or other legal authority.
b. If a settlement session before the Settlement Judge results in either a full or a partial settlement, the agreement shall be reduced to writing by the parties. Although the parties may place their agreement on the record, the Settlement Judge will not expand on or interpret any incomplete term of the settlement placed on the record if the parties are unable to finalize a written agreement after the settlement session. The parties may stipulate that the Court shall retain jurisdiction over them to enforce the settlement, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6.
(6) FURTHER COURT PROCEEDINGS
a. The Settlement Judge shall be subject to the provisions of Evidence Code § 703.5
b. At the conclusion of the settlement session, and with notice to the parties, the Settlement Judge may report in writing to the APJ whether all or part of the case has settled, and/or make recommendations as to the process by which some or all of the remaining issues in the case may be most expeditiously resolved.