Video #56 – Contested Divorce PART 6 (Attending the FL-300 Court Hearing)

Video Transcript

Welcome to 

Christina:  This is Christina.

Ed:  This is Ed.  Today, we are going to talk about attending the FL-300 hearing and, after the hearing is over, drafting a court order that matches the decisions that the judge made during the hearing.

Ed:  Christina, how do I know the date, time, and place of the hearing on my FL-300?

Christina: The first page of the FL-300 will tell you the date, time, address, and department for the hearing.  Again, the court clerk will fill in this information when you file the FL-300 with the court.

Ed:  What do I do on the day of the hearing?

Christina:  On the day of the hearing, go to the department at the courthouse where the hearing is scheduled to occur and have a seat.  The bailiff will typically call the roll.  The bailiff is the guy that is dressed like a Sheriff’s deputy.  Your case will not be the only case on the judge’s calendar that morning.  There may be 10 or 15 other cases.  Be prepared to wait for your case to be called.  Don’t leave the department to feed the parking meter.  If you have to leave the department to use the restroom, let the bailiff know. 

Ed:  Is there anything I should do while I am waiting for my case to be called by the judge?

Christina: You may want to attempt to negotiate a settlement with your spouse before the hearing takes place. Many courts have local rules that require you to make a good faith attempt to negotiate a settlement with your spouse before the hearing. If you are going to discuss settlement with your spouse in the court hallway while waiting for your case to be called, let the bailiff know and the court will pass your case and give you time to negotiate a settlement.  If you try to negotiate a settlement with your spouse in the hallway before the court calls your case and you are unsuccessful, go back into the courtroom and let the bailiff know you were unable to negotiate a settlement and the court should call your case.

Ed:  What if I talk to my spouse in the courthouse hallway before the hearing and we are able to reach a settlement, at least in regards to the temporary orders I am requesting?

Christina:  If you are able to negotiate a settlement, ask the bailiff if the court has a court form you can use to write up the details of your settlement.   If the court has such forms, write out the terms of your settlement as clearly as you can.  Then, when the court calls your case, show your settlement paperwork to the judge and ask the judge to sign it.  If the court does not have any such settlement court form, wait for the court to call your case and then recite the terms of your settlement in front of the judge.

Ed:  What if I’m afraid of my spouse, do I have to try to negotiate a settlement with my spouse before the hearing starts?

Christina: No.  If you are afraid of your spouse, just wait until the judge calls your case.

Ed:  Am I entitled to know what my spouse’s position will be before the hearing?

Christina: Yes. Before the hearing, you should have received a copy of your spouse’s Responsive Declaration, which is FL-320.  It is likely your spouse will say some things in their FL-320 that you disagree with or that are false.  When the judge calls your case, you will have an opportunity to make a statement to the court.  Prepare what you want to say to the judge in advance of the hearing.  You may want to type up a statement and just read the statement to the judge.  Most judges will have read your FL-300 and your spouse’s FL-320 before the hearing starts and will be familiar with the kinds of temporary orders you are requesting and why you are requesting those orders.  However, sometimes the judge will not have read the paperwork.  Sometimes, the documents you filed with the clerk do not make it to the judge’s chambers before the hearing.  Sometimes, judges are just too busy to read all the paperwork.  You should be prepared to explain at the hearing to the judge what temporary orders you want and why the court should grant your requests, just in case the judge did not read your paperwork.

Ed:  How long with the hearing last?

Christina:  Hearings on FL-300 motions are “short cause” hearings.  They typically last only 15 or 20 minutes.   If you have complicated facts and the judge has time, your hearing may go longer.  Rarely is there any direct examination or cross-examination of witnesses?  Most of these hearings consist of back and forth discussions with the judge.  The judge may ask you and your spouse questions and give each of you one or more opportunities to say what you want to say.  If you have documents you want to show the judge during the hearing that you did not attach as exhibits to your FL-300, make copies and provide your spouse with copies of the documents before the hearing starts so your spouse has an opportunity to review the documents.

Ed:  Can I bring other people with me to the hearing, such as relatives, my new boyfriend or new girlfriend, or our children?

Christina:  Do not take minor children to the hearing on your FL-300.  If you want to bring a friend or relative to the hearing for support, that’s fine.  However, I strongly recommend that you not bring a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend.  Doing so will just make the situation explosive.

Ed:  So, let’s say we have had our hearing and the judge made various decisions during the hearing.  What do I do next?

Christina:  At the conclusion of the FL-300 hearing, the judge will make one or more decisions about the temporary orders you requested.  Some courts will prepare a “Findings And Order After Hearing”, which is FL-340, that sets forth all of the judge’s decisions, and the judge’s clerk or the bailiff will give you a filed-endorsed copy of the order immediately after the hearing.  However, other courts,  most courts, will require you or your spouse, whichever is the prevailing party, to prepare the FL-340 “Findings And Order After Hearing”. 

Ed:  If the court does not prepare the FL-340 “Findings And Order After Hearing”, what do I do?

Christina:  First, you have to understand that it is crucial that the FL-340 get drafted.  This is the document that sets forth all of the judge’s orders.  If nobody drafts the “Findings And Order After Hearing”, then you will have wasted your time going to the hearing because no orders will exist.  If the court does not draft the FL-340 on its own, then you will have to do it. Right after you get back home from court, go to our Court Forms Database where you will find a blank FL-340.   Prepare the FL-340, using the Judicial Council forms listed on the FL-340, all of which can be found in our Court Forms Database.   As you draft the FL-340, you want to set forth in that document all of the orders that the judge made during the hearing.  You want to draft the FL-340 right after the hearing while you can still remember what the judge ordered.

Ed:  What do I do with the FL-340 after I have drafted it?

Christina:  After you have prepared the FL-340, mail it to your spouse and ask your spouse to approve your draft by signing the space at the bottom of the FL-340 form.   After your spouse approves the FL-340, mail the original and one copy, with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to the judge’s department for the judge to sign.  If your spouse refuses to approve your draft of the order within 10 days, and if you and your spouse can’t agree on appropriate revisions to the proposed order, then mail your draft to the court with a cover letter letting the judge know that your spouse refused to approve your draft of the order and ask the judge to sign your draft.  Send a copy of your letter to the judge to your spouse.

Ed:  What do I do with the FL-340 after it comes back from the court signed by the judge?

Christina:  After the judge has signed the FL-340, have a friend serve a filed-endorsed copy of the FL-340 on your spouse by mail, fill out the Proof of Service By Mail form, which is FL-335, and file the FL-335 with the court.  The FL-335 can be found in our Court Forms Database.

Ed:  In the next video series, we will talk about how to prepare for trial using formal discovery.


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