In Hillsborough County, Florida, when you file a new case in the Family Law Division, you receive what’s called an Order for a case management conference that’s set out normally 90 days from the date that you have filed. Also, when you reopen a case, the court normally will set a case management conference, not all the time, but normally. This happens in divorces, paternity actions and other circuit court matters. Normally in child-support-enforcement-type matters, case management conferences do not appear to be set, but in the circuit court in these forms of matters, divorce and paternity especially, the court usually sets a case management conference.
So what is a case management conference?
A Case management conference is an opportunity for the judge to have a status check on the situation. It’s like going to your doctor for a checkup. It’s usually very quick. The time in front of the judge is usually only a few minutes, usually no longer than 10 minutes or so, and usually a lot of times under 5 minutes, but it is very important to keep the case moving. Hillsborough County cases generally seem to progress and end faster than some other counties and this author believes a lot of times it is due to case management conferences that occur on a regular basis and Judges are consistently keeping track of the cases, so they don’t just fall on the wayside.
What happens at a Case Management Conference?
At the case management conference, the court has already entered an order when the case is filed, stating what needs to be done prior to the case management conference and also if the person that filed the case does not show up to the case management conference, the court is able to dismiss the case. Therefore, it’s very important to show up to all case management conferences. Even if you hired an attorney, a practical suggestion is always to go. It’s good to get to know where the courtroom is, who your judge is, where to park, how to get into the courthouse and sometimes, maybe one of the first times that you’ve seen your attorney, or the first time in awhile that you’ve seen your attorney since you initially retained. So therefore, this is a good time to go and be a part of the process.
There are certain things that are due prior to the case management conference and that’s for you to discuss with your attorney about what is required to be filed and the best practices are always to have the parenting course completed prior to the case management conference in Hillsborough County, but again, this is something to discuss with your attorney: exactly what needs to be filed and what needs to be accomplished prior to the case management conference.
What happens after the case management?
Another large component of a case management conference is calendar setting, of the court looking to try to determine where do we go from here. Do we set a mediation? Does the court need to refer the parties to a mediation now? Is there still more work that needs to be done? Has the other side been served. If they have not been served yet, there’s other things the court needs to look at. Or, if the other side has been served and they have not filed an answer, the process of default may begin and at some times, the court can even enter a final judgment of default, as well.
What is the Court orders me to Mediation?
Mediation is an opportunity for the parties with their attorneys and a neutral mediator to try to get to a settlement and enter into a settlement agreement and so that way, can control their case, rather than have it dictated to them by the judge. Mediation is an excellent remedy and a vast majority of the times, is successful and the courts do not need to intervene by way of trial. But in the event mediation is not successful, many times at the case management conference, the courts will then decide that the next step is either a temporary relief hearing; some other form of hearing, depending on how complicated the situation is; or setting the case for a final hearing or what is called a trial.
So therefore, this is just a quick summary of what a case management conference is in Hillsborough County. Each county may be a little bit different in terms of case management conferences in those respective different counties, so therefore, it’s very important to retain an attorney that understands the law of your jurisdiction and to find out the information about what needs to be done prior to your case management conference.
How long will I have to be there for?
Another question that’s asked routinely is how long will I need to be there for? Now, this is a question that again, if we had a crystal ball, we’d be able to tell you. I’ve some cases where we are the first one’s called and we’re out within 5 minutes, and I’ve had other ones where the last one’s called and the docket took 2 hours, but most of the time your case is called sometime in between the 10-20 other cases. So, it is not entirely inappropriate for your attorney to tell you that you need to probably have a pretty decent time off of work in order to be ready for whatever is going to happen, especially for travel to and from the courthouse.
Again, this general information about a Hillsborough County case management conference. If you have any questions, give our office a call at (813) 272-2345.