If you filed an application for a financial order seeking a property settlement in a Family Law Court, you will probably be required to attend a case assessment conference. The conference is held before a court registrar.
The registrar will try to learn about your situation and the goals of each party. The registrar will encourage the parties to resolve their property dispute. If that effort does not succeed, the registrar will make appropriate orders to move the case forward.
Case assessment conference is held after one party applies for a financial order. You can ask a lawyer to prepare and file that order on your behalf.
The application must be served on the other party. That party then has an opportunity to file a response.
Before the case assessment conference is held, both parties are required to exchange certain financial information. Your lawyer can help you prepare that disclosure.
If you have a good reason for being excused from attending the case assessment conference in person, you need to make that request at least seven days before the date scheduled for the conference. In most cases, parties are expected to attend in person, so your request might not be granted.
At least two days before the case assessment conference, the parties must exchange:
Disclosure laws are quite specific. You should obtain legal advice to make sure that you comply with their exact terms.
The case assessment conference is broken into three phases. During the first phase, the registrar explains the process, determines whether there are any family violence issues that need to be addressed, and asks each party to explain what they want and why negotiations have been unsuccessful.
The second phase is an attempt to negotiate a resolution. The registrar might talk to both parties together or might separate them and shuttle between them. If one party feels intimidated by the other, the registrar will probably want to speak to them separately. The registrar will try to understand the facts and will talk with the parties about whether their desired outcomes are realistic. The registrar’s goal is to move each party toward compromise without pressuring them to accept a proposed resolution.
If an agreement is reached, the registrar will summarize that agreement. The parties will then decide whether to reduce that agreement to writing and whether to ask for a consent order. Since agreements made during the case assessment conference can be legally binding, it is wise to be represented by a lawyer who will safeguard your rights.
The third phase is a procedural hearing. The procedural hearing usually begins as soon as the case assessment conference concludes. Information that is revealed during the case assessment conference is confidential, subject to certain exceptions. The procedural hearing, on the other hand, is a matter of public record.
At the procedural hearing, the registrar will make formal orders about what will happen next.