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Court Notes: Information from Dept. F2 for Attorneys Practicing Family Law

Local Rule of Court 7-103 requires that parties meet and confer prior to mediation. The rule is very specific that if a complete settlement is not possible, all issues should at least be discussed including vacation and holiday schedules. It is a rare case in which at least the holidays can't be resolved regardless of which parent receives primary custody. With that in mind, all counsel are expected to resolve as many issues as possible before requesting mediation services. In most cases the court will now be inquiring as to what issues have not been resolved and what the other parties' position is regarding the areas in conflict. Counsel not prepared to respond to those questions have not satisfactorily met and conferred. Meet and confer should take place prior to court and not at the time the case is called.

It is extremely helpful to have pleadings which set forth the precise parenting plan, including holidays and vacations, that your client would like. This information is invaluable in resolving cases prior to court and is essential for the mediators and the commissioner to have at the time of the hearing. Bare declarations which essentially say "I want custody" without more scheduling information are useless. The court will be looking to the extent of the proposals in the pleadings in making orders for attorneys fees.

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