When a Complaint for Divorce is filed in Family Court in Nevada and the other party responds by filing an Answer and Counterclaim, the first thing Family Court does is set a mandatory Case Management Conference (CMC). This sets the case on either a litigation track, meaning a trial date will be set, or final resolution during the Case Management Conference itself. Both parties are expected to attend.
Not every family court judge handles the Case Management Conference the same way, just know that the first four items on the list below are things that usually do happen, and the last four items are things that might or might not happen.
Item #1: By the time of the case management conference the Judge expects that Plaintiff and Defendant will have filed financial disclosure forms on the Court’s form indicating that their respective income, expenses, assets and debts are. This give the Judge a financial picture of the parties which will help the Judge administer the case.
Each side has to attach 3 pay stubs or income statement to the FDF. So this is item number 1 and the Judge could sanction you if you do not have this document completed and filed at the time of the hearing.
Item #2: Applies only to parties with minor children:
If you have children the Judge is required to send you to mandatory mediation in order to try to formulate a parenting plan with the help of one of the Court’s counselors, therapists or mediators. The Judge will then set a date about 1-2 months from then for you to come back court to ask if either a partial or full parenting plan has been agreed upon between you and your spouse.
NOTE: To speed up your case, you can submit a request for mediation right after an Answer and Counterclaim is filed. This way, perhaps you can have your return from mediation hearing at the same time as your case management conference.
Item # 3: Next comes setting the case down for either trial or a status check. One main reason for the CMC is to move the case along as the Judges want to be able to conclude the case within a year after it has been filed. Therefore, the Judge will want to know how long the parties need for Discovery and when can they, or their lawyers, will be ready for trial.
Item #4: There is a mandatory initial disclosure of witnesses and exchange of documents between the Plaintiff and Defendant. While it is possible that both parties have the same copies of documents, e.g., income tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, title to cars, 401(k) statements, etc., the Court nevertheless wants an exchange of documents which might be used at trial. The rule is that if you don’t disclose the document up front, you cannot use it later at a hearing.
Also, the names, numbers, addresses, and expected testimony of witnesses must be disclosed. You obviously list your spouse, but also be sure to add teachers, accountants, friends, coaches, and any other individual you might want to later call as a witness. If you don’t list someone, you cannot later call him or her as a witness.
Things that may or may not occur:
Item #1: Some Judges will, even if no motion has been filed by either party, make temporary orders during the Case Management Conference.
These include orders for temporary custody, visitation, child support, alimony, exclusive possession of the home or car, etc. Be prepared to address these issues.
Item #2: Another discretionary item the judge might address is misbehavior of the parties during the period of time leading up to the case management conference. Whether there has been a violation of the joint preliminary injunction, interference with visitation, refusal to pay bills, overspending, threats or abuse, etc. The judge might address the issues and admonish the parties or provide them with guidance.
Item #3: A third discretionary item judges may address at the Case Management Conference is whether to send the parties to a settlement judge or financial mediator to work out the division of debts and liabilities before the Judge actually sets the case for trial.
The judge might also make referrals to outsourcers, e.g., counselors, psychologists, private mediators, etc. This can be a good thing if it helps in the case, but if it does not, it could delay your eventual trial date.
Item #4: Finally, the case management conference is used by some judges to try to settle as many issues as possible right then and there. The Judge will sometimes either resolve the entire case during the CMC, or just set the matter down for a hearing on one or two issues, like the amount of support, or the division of the personal property.
After the Case Management Conference, the Court will prepare an Order setting forth what was discussed and any dates for future hearings including the divorce trial, if applicable.