The Family Court chambers conference is a unique instrument that can be of exceptional benefit to you, your family, and your case if used correctly.
During your Family Court appearance, you will notice at the calendar call that the attorneys collected that morning will request a great many things. They may say a case is “formal”, or “ready” (which is different than “ready subject” or “ready trial”), and “conference”.
You may notice that one of the attorneys requests a chambers conference with the judge.
If both parties are represented by an attorney, then the attorneys may be able to meet with the judge in her chambers outside of the audience of the court (and the parties).
This, candidly, allows the attorneys to be more candid than they would be allowed to be if they were on the record, in open court, or could be heard by the parties.
This has many benefits (even for you – who have been left out!)
A chambers conference allows the attorneys to step outside of the theater for a moment and have a real conversation. It is device to simplify and get to the heart of the matter.
I have found that this device is of particular use in the Family Court on the very first court appearance (where it is best to apprise the assigned judge the beating heart of the conflict) or towards the very end (as a last chance to avoid trial, and the legal fees trials demand).
Most judges are welcoming of a chambers conference because, though they tend to take a little longer than other calendar calls, if used correctly they can save everyone a lot of time in the long run.
A note, however.
A chambers conference is inappropriate – and will not be allowed – unless both parties have an attorney. If neither party has an attorney, or if only one party has retained an attorney, then you should expect to be heard on the record, in open court. With all the bells and whistles of theater.