TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

Taking Care of Business in Place 2, District 12 …

Court Administrator for Lauderdale County is Sue Franklin, 601-482-9729.

Court Administrator for Clarke County is LeAnne Volking, 601-776-2126.

Scheduling

  • To schedule a hearing date or an appointment with the court, contact the court administrator in the appropriate county. You will be given a trial date in a contested case only after you have certified to the court that all discovery has been completed, and that all preliminary matters have been concluded. This will require a status conference with the court. See below for scheduling temporary hearings, hearings on motions, and ex parte matters.
  • Ex Parte matters in Lauderdale County are scheduled Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00, a.m. to 9:00, a.m., and on Fridays, generally from 8:00, a.m. to  noon.
  • Trials generally begin at 9:00, a.m. in Lauderdale County.
  • Docket call for Rule 81 Days (aka Multiple Action Days; i.e., temporary hearings, contempts, Rule 81 return days, etc.) in Lauderdale County is at 8:30, a.m.
  • All matters for Clarke County are scheduled for a day in term at 8:45, a.m.
  • No matters for the record are heard on Fridays except by order of the court.
  • Trial dates are available only after the attorneys have satisfied the court that all discovery and other preliminaries have been concluded and the case is ripe for a full trial.  Contested divorces require a Pre-Trial Order conforming to the court’s Form Z, which is available through the court administrator.
  • A court reporter is generally not available on Friday, except by order of the court.

Irreconcilable Differences divorces

  • One party is required to appear personally to testify about the jurisdictional facts and the property settlement agreement (PSA).
  • A financial disclosure form is not required, but certain financial disclosures must be made in the body of the PSA when there is a provision for child support.  Those requirements are detailed here.
  • PSA’s with no provision for child support, even in shared custody arrangements, are not favored and likely will not be approved.
  • In every case where the parties will share joint legal custody, one of them must be designated to have final decision-making authority.  Agreements in joint physical and legal custody arrangements providing that the party having physical custody at the time will have final decision-making authority will not be appoved.
  • If one party is pro se, you may be required to have that party in the court room when you present the case, or you may be required to continue your hearing to get the pro se party to the court room, which may require postponement to a later day.  The better practice may be to have the pro se litigant present in court on the day your client expects to obtain the divorce judgment.
  • All PSA’s with a child support provision must be accompanied by the statutory wage-withholding order.

Rule 81 Days (formerly referred to as “Multiple Action Days”) …

  • Temporary and contempt hearings and modification return days are set on multiple action days in Lauderdale County.
  • Temporary hearings have precedence on multiple action days.
  • Cases are arranged on the docket and called in order from the earliest pleading filed to the latest, and are set for hearing in that order.
  • Any case heard on a multiple action day is limited to one hour per side; if more time is required to present the case, it should be continued to another day.
  • There are generally two Rule 81 (multiple action) days scheduled each month in Lauderdale County.
  • Temporary, contempt and modification hearings in Clarke County are set on the general docket for a day in term.

Temporary Hearings

  • Each side is allowed one hour for the presentation of all evidence, which is taken on the record.
  • Temporary judgments will include a scheduling order, including a date for a pre-trial conference.
  • Temporary judgments expire six months after the date of entry, unless extended by court order for good cause.

Adoptions

  • Section 93-17-1, MCA, has been amended, and the jurisdictional requirements for adoption have changed.  Certain allegations must be made to invoke jurisdiction of the court.  An analysis of those requirements is here and here.  The court will require strict compliance with the jurisdictional requirements.
  • A pre-adoption conference is required in all cases.  The attorney is required to confer in person with the judge in advance of the date set for final presentation of the adoption to satisfy the court that the pleadings are in proper order, that all required disclosures have been made and consents obtained, and that the proposed judgment complies with the statute. Do not bring your clients with you on the pre-adoption day. The court often has many other matters pending then, and it is disruptive to the court’s calendar to excuse you to finally get your paperwork in order and then later intrude in the ordinary course of business.

Estates, Guardianships and Conservatorships …

  • Strict compliance with the statutes and Uniform Chancery Court Rules is required.  If you accept representation in a probate matter in Lauderdale or Clarke Counties, you will be expected to be diligent and timely in your duties.
  • You may mail in or leave accountings and petitions to open or close estates, but your personal appearance may be required, with a resulting delay in action on your request, if the court has any questions it can not resolve from information in the file.
  • If you are ordered to appear because you have not made timely filings or there are other deficiencies in your case, you must appear personally, and you may not cure the deficiency by mail.  Timely filing and compliance with the statutes and rules will save you this inconvenience.
  • Jane S. Miller, Staff Attorney, is responsible to oversee the probate docket in Place 2.  If you have any questions, you may contact her at 601-486-4920.

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