Burlington Court Releases New Procedures for Divorce and Family Matters

Judge Call, the Presiding Judge of the Family Part in Burlington County, issued a Notice to the Family Bar.  The Notice to the Bar detailed new procedures to be followed in Family Law cases in Burlington County.   This Notice to the Bar only applies to Family Part cases in Burlington County.

The Notice to the Bar was necessary in part due to judicial vacancies and the reassignment of some of the court’s judges.  Judge Hogan retired and Judge Baldwin has been reassigned to the Civil Division.   Effective January 17, 2012, Judge Smith and Judge Domzalski, with limited exceptions, will be the only judges handling the dissolution (divorce) matters in Burlington County.  They will only hear 25 motions a week and they will be listing multiple cases for trial on the same day.

The limitation on the number of motions heard each week will cause delays in oral argument and decisions rendered by the court.  Advance planning and preparation will go a long way in quick turnaround in the courts decisions.    The judge also recognized,

“… a well prepared MESP Memo submitted by both sides to our experienced panelists is perhaps the most effective, and least expensive, way to resolve the litigation.”

In Burlington County the timely exchange of Case Information Statements and discovery is more important than ever.

Multiple divorce cases listed for trial on the same day will cause uncertainty for the trial dates.  It remains to be seen if the Burlington Courts will be able to schedule continuous divorce trials.  Just because the parties are are scheduled for trial does not necessarily mean that there will be a judge available to start the trial.  Conversely, if there are several cases listed for trial ahead of the case and they settle the parties may start their divorce trial sooner than expected.

The Notice to the Bar reaffirms the practice of requiring economic mediation for those parties who were unable to settle their case following the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP) and lets the litigants and lawyers know there will be strict adherence to the Court Rules regarding motion practice.  The Notice states,

“…judges will rarely, if ever, consider pleadings filed later than the close of business on the Thursday preceding the scheduled oral argument.”

Those who strictly adhere to the court rules will do better than those who do not.

We regularly represent clients in Burlington County Family Court.  If you are contemplating a divorce or a post judgment modification, contact us or call us at (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation.  We would be happy to explain the Burlington County Notice to the Bar in full detail and discuss how it may impact your particular situation.