Every divorce case will require a judge’s involvement at some point in the matter. The judge’s involvement may be required to resolve disputes during the pendency of the case or at the end to sign off on your divorce. The only way to get a judge assigned in your case is to file a Request for Judicial Intervention (“RJI”). The county clerk’s office charges a $95.00 filing fee for the RJI. In most cases, your attorney will pay this fee for you and then charge it back on your next invoice.
Timing of this filing varies greatly depending on the details of each case. In most cases, the attorneys try to work out the issues during the discovery and negotiation phases without involving the court. If those issues cannot be worked out, an RJI will be filed. Timely filing of the RJI is needed to maximize the efficiency (time and money) of your case. Continued correspondence between attorneys that is not productive only delays the case and increases your costs.
Either party can file the RJI. In some cases, a motion needs to be made for emergency custody, temporary spousal support, temporary child support, an order forcing one party to leave the marital home, or for your spouse to contribute to your attorney fees. In those cases, the RJI must be filed along with the motion so that a judge is assigned to decide whether to grant your motion.
If the attorneys can navigate the discovery and negotiation phases without a judge’s involvement, an RJI will still need to be filed before your divorce can be finalized. This is so a judge can review the terms of your divorce and sign off, making the divorce official. If the RJI is filed after all terms are agreed upon, you will never have a conference with the court or meet the judge. If the RJI is filed to help resolve issues during the case, a court conference will be scheduled within 45 days of filing the RJI.
At the first conference, sometimes referred to as “P1”, the judge will meet with both attorneys and help to resolve the issues by making court orders or setting deadlines. Some judges prefer to have the parties at the conference and others prefer that only the attorneys attend. You will be informed if you are required to be present for the conference. At the conference, the attorneys will provide the judge an overview of the circumstances that led to the filing of the RJI. In some cases, there are emergency issues to be dealt with and, in those cases, we make arguments for temporary orders from the court. The judge may also issue a “scheduling order” which sets deadlines that everyone must comply with and which aims to have your case completely resolved within six months.
As of January of 2021, all conferences are conducted virtually. If the judge wishes for the parties to be present, you will be provided via email with a Microsoft Teams link to join the conference by video. We suggest logging in 5 minutes before the start of your conference. You may log in from anywhere you will be that day. If you are more comfortable, you can come to the office for your conference and sit in with your attorney. We do these conferences regularly at Bates Family Law and they are usually nothing to worry about. If you are going to be present for the conference, you should dress in business casual attire. Your attorney will do the talking for you and no final decisions will be made on that day. If necessary, your case will come back for a second, third, or even fourth conference. We find that most cases resolve between the first and second conference.
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At Bates Family Law, we pride ourselves with providing our clients the most efficient representation. It is important to understand your options and to hire an experienced attorney who will be able to counsel you on the best path forward to marital dissolution. Call Bates Family Law today at (585) 433-4661 to schedule your free consultation.