Welcome to Tip of the Week! Judicial officers will offer a tip each week for members of the Family Law Section. Feel free to send suggestions to Mag. Kim Mattingly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mag. Kimberly Dean Mattingly, Marion Superior Court
The first tip is an update on old procedures: you do not have to file a separate order approving an agreement, and most of us would prefer that you did not file the attachments to your pleadings separately. When Odyssey was new to us, we were all taught that you should submit the agreement and also a separate order approving agreement. Most of you have reverted to the old method of simply adding approval language and signature lines to your agreements. We’ll approve either way, of course, but most prefer to sign right on the agreement, to avoid any issue in the future as to which agreement was approved, and to have the entire content of a court order accessible to the parties (and, heaven forbid, law enforcement). Similarly, everyone was told that exhibits to a pleading needed to be separate entries on the CCS. This is no longer true, and it is much easier for us to simply scroll to the end of a pleading to view that exhibit than to close the pleading and then open a new document in order to view the exhibit.
Second, remember that the local rule about the opposing party’s position applies NO MATTERNOW SMALL OR INSIGNIFICANT the relief sought may be. You must list whether the other side objects to things like extensions of time for discovery, issuing more than 25 interrogs, etc.
Speaking of discovery, do not play games with providing information or documents, or allow your client to do this. Not only can your client be severely sanctioned, but you can be sanctioned, personally, as well. If your client is wary about turning over sensitive information, there are plenty of ways to safeguard the exchange yet still comply (attorneys’ eyes only, submission in camera to name a couple). Medical information, including mental health, is always discoverable when child-related issues are pending, and when a request for spousal maintenance has been filed. It is malpractice to allow your client to be sanctioned to the point of not being able to present evidence on a topic due to their refusal to participate in discovery. If they won’t give you the goods, get off the case!
Finally, if the pro se on the other side of your case is willing to sign a waiver of service, have them also complete an appearance form. This will give you, your client and the court contact information for future filings, in particular an email address.
Stay tuned for a new tip next week!
If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Family Law Section page, please email Kara Sikorski at email@example.com.