• by Carly Mellon
What is a Case Conference?
Whether you and your partner have a dispute over child support payments, or custody issues involving your children, a case conference is the first time you will appear in front of a judge to discuss your matter. Here, you will have an opportunity to informally discuss the issues of your case with the objective of settling as many issues as possible. Irrespective of the number of issues or their complexity, in preparation for your case conference, you will have to file a case conference brief.
What is a Case Conference Brief? Why do we prepare them? How to fill one out?
A case conference brief, a.k.a. Form 17A, is submitted to the court in preparation for a case conference. The brief outlines the matter for the court, as well as the facts to be considered, family information, and any issues that need to be resolved. The purpose of completing a case conference brief is to provide the judge an opportunity to become familiar with your matter and the issues that are unresolved.
In a more detailed sense, when preparing your case conference brief, you will need to fill out the following bits of information: information about your family, financial information including any claims about child support and for special expenses, issues that you and your partner have resolved or agreed on, issues that you and your partner have yet to resolve, issues that you wish to discuss during the case conference, as well as your proposed resolutions to existing issues. It is important to remember that the case conference brief should be brief and only include relevant facts affecting your matter. In addition to substantive issues, as an example, if there are any procedural issues such as date and time restrictions, this should be included in the brief for the judge to review as well.
Once you have filled out your case conference brief and believe it succinctly outlines the information mentioned above, you are ready to submit it to the court. The deadline to submit your case conference brief is 6 days before your case conference is scheduled to take place. This gives the court an opportunity to understand your family’s background information and issues pertaining to your matter.
It is important to note that, although the brief is added to the court file, it is not added to your continuing record. The case conference brief you provide to the court is given back to you after the case conference is completed. Most discussions and materials exchanged during a case conference are without prejudice and cannot be shared with another judge. However, this does not mean parties should include irrelevant information in an attempt to place the other party in a bad light.
If you are having difficulty in drafting your conference case brief, it is encouraged to consult with a family law lawyer who has experience representing clients in case conferences. As many family law matters can become quite complex, it is important to speak with a family law lawyer who can help you prepare your case conference materials and provide legal advice as it becomes necessary.