In the Rhode Island family courts a divorce may run on one of two tracks the "Nominal" or Uncontested Track and the Contested Track.
This brief article on Rhode Island divorces addresses what are known as Case Management Conferences which only occur on the Contested Track Calendar.
What is a Case Management Conference?
Answer: A Case Management Conference (often referred to by Rhode Island Divorce attorneys as a "CMC") is the first opportunity or meeting on the Contested Track Divorce Calendar in which the attorneys for the parties meet with the judge. Usually this meeting takes place in the Judge's chambers. The meeting often consists of the Judge identifying who represents the husband and who represents the wife. The judge will often expect the attorneys disclose information that will help the judge guide the attorneys on how various issues in your particular situation might be viewed by the court even based on the limited information that may be provided to the Judge.
I say "limited information" because the judge must keep his calendar moving and only so much time may be reasonably allocated for each conference otherwise other parties will not be heard at all and the court calender will become backed up further if the parties scheduled to have conferences or hearings on the date of your Case Management Conference are not heard. Everyone has a story they want to be told in the Rhode Island Family Court, but often times there is not enough time in Case Management Conference for the attorneys to tell each parties' story in full. Therefore the attorneys and the judge must stick to the fundamentals.
The judge is likely to want to know the following:
1) The length of the marriage
2) The number of minor children involved
3) Who the children are living with
4) Whether there is a marital home that is owned
5) Whether both spouses work, how often and how much they each make
6) The level of education of each spouse
7) Whether the parties are living in the same residence or who moved out
8) What assets are involved in the case
9) What debts do the parties have
10) What, if anything, has been agreed upon by the parties for their divorce
11) What are the major disagreements between the parties and why
12) Is there any infidelity or other conduct by either of the parties that the court might want to know about.
13) What efforts have been made by the parties and the attorneys to resolve the issues?
The judge might then give his or her perspective to the attorneys as to how the court might see any particular issues that are raised given the barebones information that the attorneys are able to provide. The judge may direct one or both counsel to review certain cases to give more direction on the current state of the law on the issue. The judge usually makes no decisions, findings or rulings as a result of a Case Management Conference unless the attorneys agree that orders are necessary to protect the parties. This is typically only done after the judge gives the attorneys the opportunity to speak with their respective clients to see if the client agrees and to afford the attorney an opportunity to advise the client of the pros and cons of any order or decision agreed to regarding a particular issues. Occasionally an attorney during a Case Management Conference will have already spoken with his or her client sufficiently and will have advised him or her about what might be proposed in the conference and the attorney may agree on the clients behalf either knowing or believing that he or she has already addressed the issue with the client prior to the Conference and therefore knows what the client would like done or what is in the best interests of the client.
Occasionally Judge's may call the parties into his or her chambers to explain that a discussion was had and how the Judge perceived the various issues. This is both dependent upon the case and upon whether the judge believes that speaking to both parties will assist the parties and/or attorneys in expediting the case before the court and/or helping the parties to reach a resolution or compromise.
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