Saturday, January 10, 2009

Family Law and Pretrial Conferences - Riffing on Marshall County's Local Rules

I wrote about the possibility of using the pretrial conference rule here. From my previous foray into Marshall County's local rules, I noticed that county has a rule promoting the use of pre-trial conferences:

(A) The parties and their counsel shall meet for a final pre-trial conference before a contested final hearing shall be held. The Court will schedule the final pretrial conference. Failure to participate in the conference will result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions as determined by the Court.
Clearly, Marshall County takes its pretrial conference rule seriously. I did not think that a pretrial conference necessary in every divorce and I still had this opinion when I first read the rule. I have quite a few cases where one side represents themselves. The difficulty with those cases runs from the other party not complying with discovery to the limitations our ethical rule impose on lawyers dealing with unrepresented persons. I am not so sure this rule solves the problems caused by pro se parties ("[t]he parties and their counsel...."), but let us call it a possibility.

I remain convinced that Trial Rule 16 provides us with the means to deal with complicated cases of property and custody. I am even more convinced after finishing a particular divorce this past October. The case took up one day and about three more half day hearings. No real estate but the opposing party was a mother convinced that she should have custody. Father had had an emergency custody order and the divorce court made that emergency order permanent. We might have saved time and attorney fees if Madison County had a rule similar to Marshall County.

No comments: