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Civil Commitment – or Not? - Family Law News

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Family Law News

Posted on: Jun 23, 2016

By Jenna Heavner, Mallor Grodner LLP

Do you regularly review the Marion County Commitment to Respect and Civility with new clients? If not, then you should be.

The Commitment is not “new” by any means – it actually was first adopted and written into the local rules several years ago, and it has been in effect ever since. Yet, local family law practitioners seem to be forgetting about it. Not necessarily about being civil to one another and the judiciary as a whole (which is an entirely different subject, in itself!), but about the requirement that we review and discuss the Commitment with all our new clients.

The relevant local rule is 502(F): “In all family law matters, the petition shall use the form of summons and appearance form set forth in Appendix A.” The appearance form included in the rules as “Appendix A” includes the following specific provision:

I have reviewed and discussed the Commitment to Respect and Civility with my client
and agree to aspire to its goals.

At a meeting I attended recently, it was discussed that attorneys seem to be forgetting the above provision on appearances filed with the court.  As a result, at least one judicial officer has begun rejecting appearances for attorneys who fail to include it.  Surely, we all should and are obligated to discuss basic expectations of civility and respect with all our clients.  Perhaps we all could use the regular reminder ourselves.

Whether or not habitually reviewing the Commitment with new clients actually makes a difference is a different discussion for another day… but it’s a good place to start.

The Marion County Local Rules are available here.

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