The Case Assessment Conference is the first major court process after you and your former husband or wife fail to agree on the parenting or financial matter during the pre-action procedure. This is the first event that you will have to attend the Family Court if you are seeking financial orders.
A case assessment conference is a preliminary determination of a family relation case. If you are filing for a financial matter after the breakdown of your marriage with your former spouse, you will most likely encounter this process. Its purpose is for the person conducting the conference to assess and make any recommendations about the appropriate future conduct of the case and to enable you and your former spouse to resolve the case, or any part of the case, by agreement.
It is also conducted to determine whether the case is suitable for the Family Court or should be transferred to another court. (Reg. 12.03, Family Law Rules 2004)
The attendance of the parties to the case is compulsory. The presence of your lawyer in this court process is important. Your presence is also necessary because you will have to decide whether a settlement proposed by the other party is acceptable to you. Your lawyer will help you decide whether the offer to settle is beneficial to you.
In this appearance, the Registrar will be the one conducting the case assessment conference. The judge will not be the one who will conduct the conference. This is because this process is not yet considered as part of the trial. The conference is only a preliminary determination of the merits of your case. As part of the conference, the Registrar will likely to suggest or recommend ways for you to settle and agree to avoid litigation in court or what proper action that may be taken by the parties after the conference.
If for a justifiable reason you cannot attend the case assessment conference in person on the scheduled date, you may request the court to allow you to attend the conference using a telephone or video call.
The request is asking the court’s permission may be made by submitting a request to attend by electronic means. It is important to seek legal advice from a lawyer if after all of these you were not able to attend the case assessment conference.
The Registrar Manager will fix the date of case assessment conference upon the filing of the Application (application for parenting or financial order). The date of case assessment conference should be within 28 days from the date of the filing to the Application.
The reason why there is case assessment conference is that either you or your former spouse applied for the issuance of financial or parenting order. Before the case assessment conference, you are required under the Family Law Rules 2004 to disclose to the other party all the circumstances of your application, be it for financial or parenting order. You also have to give a copy to the other party the documents that you have filed in court about your application.
The Registrar has several options after the case assessment conference. Depending on the circumstances that are present in the case, the Registrar shall make the appropriate order for the speedy disposition of the case. If the case is not settled by the end of the conference, the court will make procedural orders for the future conduct of the matter, including an order that the parties attend a conciliation conference or if the case is suitable to be allocated the first day before the Judge, it will make an order for a procedural hearing.
If the proceedings also involve parenting issues and the case is not settled by the end of the conference, the parties may be ordered to attend the Child Responsive Program. (Reg. 12.03, FLR)