Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

New Court Plan Outlines Path for Quicker, More Just Resolutions in Family Matters

An Administrative Order signed by D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield and dated December 31, 2014 was posted on the courts’ website today adopting a revised Domestic Relations Case Management Plan. The result of months of discussions by judges, practitioners, and advocates, the Case Management Plan provides an effective framework for scheduling and resolving custody and divorce cases in D.C. Superior Court. Legal Aid is proud to have participated in process of debating and drafting the plan, which is in effect as of January 1, 2015.

Among its most important points, the Case Management Plan provides:

– A pendente lite (or temporary) hearing should be held within six weeks of an initial hearing.

– A trial date should be six to nine months after a custody case is filed.

– In a bifurcated case with custody and financial issues related to divorce, the financial issues may be handled after a custody trial. However, the financial trial should be no later than twelve months after the case was filed.

– After an oral ruling on a motion, a judge should reduce the ruling to writing and issue a written order within five days.

– For pre-judgment motions, if the judge has not issued a ruling within sixty days, the Domestic Relations clerk shall schedule a hearing and send notice to the parties.

– A Request for Judicial Action may be filed requesting the court to take steps to comply with the Case Management Plan.

Legal Aid commends Chief Judge Satterfield for endorsing this strategy to address unnecessary delays by providing substantive goals for resolving litigation. Legal Aid will continue to work with colleagues in legal services, the private bar, and the judiciary to facilitate the implementation of the Case Management Plan.

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