In some counties, including Hillsborough County, there is a hearing automatically scheduled by the Clerk’s office as soon as a family law case is initiated. This includes new divorce cases, new paternity cases, or reopening either type of case for modification, enforcement, or contempt actions. This hearing is called a Case Management Conference, and typically occurs around 90 days after the date the case is opened.
The purpose of this hearing is the check up on your case, to ensure that deadlines are being met, and to take jurisdictional testimony, if necessary. The hearing lasts less than five minutes, however, there may be 20 or more cases set for the same type of hearing at the same time, with the same judge. This means that if your case is called first, you will be done quickly, but if you are towards the end of the docket, or case list, then you may be there for an hour or longer.
Because these hearings occur after the deadline to exchange mandatory financial disclosure has occurred, whether everyone has complied with the required financial disclosure is one of the first things the judge will want to know.
If your case is an initial divorce case, the judge will also likely take what is called jurisdictional testimony, which is the required testimonial evidence to dissolve your marriage. You will need to make sure that you have a Florida Driver’s License with an issue date 6 months prior to the filing of your action in order to be able to provide this testimony. If your hearing is done through Zoom, you may need to file a copy of your Florida Driver’s License with the court in advance of the hearing. The judge may also ask what issues exist in your case, for example, timesharing, alimony, division of a marital business, etc.
Ultimately, these hearings are very simple and basic. While they are essential to ensuring that cases are progressing as they should through the court system, they should not be stressful.
As experienced family lawyers, our team at Robert Sparks Attorneys makes sure clients know what to expect at these hearings, and how to prepare accordingly. To learn how we can help you, contact us.