Use Case Management Orders to your strategic advantage.
If you’re involved in a complex child custody case, or a protracted fight over visitation and parenting time rights, ask the court to enter a Case Management Order to supervise the progress of your case. A Case Management Order is an order that sets the deadlines for naming your witnesses, conducting pre-trial discovery, taking depositions, providing reports from psychological experts and producing your evidence for review by the other side.
In many cases, protracted cases automatically are referred to a Case Management Conference, in which a Case Management Order is produced. Some states refer to these conferences as Status Conferences or Compliance Conferences or simply Pre-Trial Conferences. Standardized fill-in-the-blank forms are frequently used to set up the deadlines for the various activities that will occur during the case. But each case is different, and it is often necessary to add special provisions to a Case Management Order.
Think about using the case management process to your advantage. Ask for a Case Management Conference if none is automatically scheduled. Ask for deadlines that will limit your opponent from dragging on the dispute indefinitely. Address who will pay for expert witnesses, as part of the Case Management Order. Lock in a deadline for completing mediation or arbitration. Limit the number of interrogatories that can be asked or depositions that can be taken. Think of the Order as a strategic device which allows you to maintain some control over the progress of the case.
If you have special circumstances (e.g., a disabled child, a request to move the children to another state, a domestic violence restraining order that prohibits the parents from communicating), be sure to address these issues as part of the Order. The more that can be addressed in advance, the less likely you’ll be caught off guard at the time of trial.