Dissolution Road Map

Status Conference

At a Status Conference, the Court will review the status of the case and progress toward efficient resolution. At any Status Conference, the Court may: Refer appropriate cases to arbitration or mediation, Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), or a Settlement Officer Conference (SOC); Inform the parties of procedural steps to reach disposition in the case; Set time limits and deadlines for service of process and filing proof of service, entry of default, service of preliminary declarations of disclosure, submission of judgment, or filing a request for trial; Appoint an attorney for a minor child upon stipulation, or schedule a hearing to appoint a child’s attorney and/or make a fee allocation; Set or reset trials, settlement conferences, or hearings, including bifurcating issues for trials; Order further Status Conference; Determine that the case requires a Case Resolution Conference (CRC) under the factors described in Cal. Rules, Rule 5.83(c)(7) and schedule a CRC; Take any other actions permitted by law that would promote a just and efficient disposition of the case. Parties represented by an attorney do not have to attend a Status Conference unless ordered by the Court to appear. (Superior Court of CA County of Santa Clara, Rule 6.B.(2-3))

Settlement Officer Conference (SOC)

At an SOC, the Family Court Settlement Officer (FCSO) or temporary judge will assist the parties to settle or to streamline issues relating to division of property, support and reimbursement (no custody or visitation) or to assist in determining the issues for trial. The Court may also appoint the FCSO as a temporary judge for the listing and sale of real estate. The FCSO has the discretion to set return SOC appointments. If the case does not settle and no further SOC appointment is set, the FCSO will set the matter for a Status Conference with the judge. The Court may order the parties to an SOC, even over an objection, at any time. (Superior Court of CA County of Santa Clara, Rule 6.C.)

Case Resolution Conference (CRC)

At a CRC, the Court will review the status of the case and progress toward efficient resolution. At any CRC, the Court may: Make any of the orders that could be made at a Status Conference; Limit, schedule, or expedite discovery, including the disclosure of expert witnesses; Appoint court experts upon stipulation and allocate their expenses, or schedule a hearing for appointment of Court experts and the allocation of the expenses; Appoint an attorney for a minor child upon stipulation or schedule a hearing on the appointment and the fee allocation; Order or review a Family Centered Case Resolution Plan in accordance with Family Code §§ 2450 and 2451;Set or reset trials, settlement conferences, or hearings, including bifurcating issues for trials; Make orders relating to subpoenas issued to Family Court Services personnel; Order further Status Conference or CRC; and Take any other actions permitted by law that would promote a just and efficient disposition of the case. Attorneys and self-represented parties shall attend each CRC unless excused in advance by the Court, the case has been dismissed, or a Judgment resolving all issues has been entered. Parties represented by an attorney do not have to attend a CRC unless ordered by the Court to appear. (Superior Court of CA County of Santa Clara, Rule 6.E.)

Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC)

An MSC shall be set in all family law cases that have been set for trial or long cause hearing. A “long cause” hearing is any hearing other than a trial that will take longer than 30 minutes. The MSC shall be conducted approximately two weeks before trial or hearing. Family law matters are usually set for an MSC and trial or long-cause hearing at Status Conference, CRC, or a Custody Settlement Conference. Once a trial (or long cause hearing) and MSC are set, no continuances will be granted except upon noticed motion for good cause. The parties may stipulate that the matter may go off calendar subject to Court approval by notifying the clerk of the judge and the calendar secretary at least one week before the scheduled trial date or MSC. Any case that has been taken off the trial calendar by stipulation can be restored to the trial calendar either by noticed motion or by requesting a further Status Conference or CRC. (Superior Court of CA County of Santa Clara, Rule 6.F.(1))

All parties shall attend the MSC fully prepared for trial on all calendared unresolved issues. Attorneys shall hold at least one face-to-face or telephone settlement discussion and have made a full exchange of all relevant information before the MSC. If a party lives outside of California, the Court may exempt that party from appearing if requested in advance, and (1) the party is available on telephone standby and (2) the other party has been previously notified by letter. At least 10 calendar days before the MSC, or 15 calendar days if service is by mail, each party shall file and serve on the other party a Settlement Conference Statement. The Settlement Conference Statement shall contain detailed statements of the party’s position on each issue to be decided at the long cause hearing or trial. If some issues were previously resolved, the Settlement Conference Statement shall describe that resolution and refer to any filed supporting documents. (Superior Court of CA County of Santa Clara, Rule 6.F.(2-3))

For more information, please see Local Family Rules of Court.