By Mag. Kimberly Dean Mattingly, Marion Superior Court
- Please proofread pleadings carefully for correct use of Petitioner and Respondent. Personally, I’d prefer you use Mother/Father, Husband/Wife or even their names. Pet/Res is more formal, but make sure you are referencing the correct litigant in every paragraph. It’s frustrating to read that Petitioner has custody in one sentence, and then on the very next line read that the same Petitioner also has IPTG. Also make sure the genders match throughout the document, and don’t use “children” when there is only one child.
- Do not ask for Modest Means Mediation without having both parties’ financial declarations on file. The current threshold for modest means is combined incomes of $60K or less. We will also consider assets, so don’t assume that an unemployed person sitting on a lot of real estate or investments will qualify. Finally, do not allow your client to show up for a Modest Means Mediation without the full fee.
- Speaking of incomes, do not allow your client to get on the stand and testify that they do not know their income. There is no human who works for a living who does not know his or her salary or wage. Maybe not to the last penny (guilty!), but they have an idea and they look either shifty or stupid if they claim they don’t. Don’t let me decide which one of those it is!
- This is not a new tip, just a reminder to include the length of hearing in your request. Otherwise, we are likely to put you down for 15 minutes. If you aren’t sure how long you are set, check in advance. If the hearing after you goes off, you may be able to use that time, but don’t assume this will be the case.
- To speed up approval of QDROs, obtain both counsel’s signatures on the proposed order before submitting. When it is an agreed order, Magistrates and Commissioners have the authority to sign on our own. Otherwise, it must be reviewed by the Mag/Comm and then go to the elected Judge for countersignature. Since both lawyers are reviewing a QDRO before submission anyway (right?!?), go ahead and sign it if you want it back faster.
- Odyssey now allows lawyers in good standing to view actual pleadings, rather than just the titles on the CCS. Enjoy!
Stay tuned for a new tip next week!
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