Your family management conference is your first time in court, where you'll talk about what order(s) you want the judge to make and why. The judge will have read your filed documents and any other evidence or information that you've emailed to the registry.
Using a script
The thought of talking to a judge might make you nervous. But the conference doesn’t have to be stressful. You can simply write down everything you need to say. Then, you can have this short "script" with you and read it out loud to the judge – it’s allowed! The judge will appreciate that you're stating things clearly. If the judge interrupts you with a question, your script will help you remember where you were. Even if you have family duty counsel or your own lawyer helping you, preparing a script is a good way to stay calm and effective when meeting with a judge.
Write your script
Once you know the exact order(s) you want (see Family management conferences in Provincial Court), you’re ready to write your script.
You can use this fill-in-the-blanks form to create your script. Follow these tips:
- The facts you need to support your request for the order(s) should cover who, what, when, where, and especially why.
- When asking for a court order, it's important that you use the word "order."
- Learn the correct terms (for example, "parenting time").
- Stick to the facts (no negative comments about other people, or opinions about things).
- Ask that the judge order a financial statement from the other person, if needed. (If you don't do this, it could delay your case if you show up in court again without it.)
When children are involved:
- Give details about the child(ren) if you're asking for anything related to them, including their names, ages, and their living arrangements.
- Give the specific amounts (or best estimate) from the child support guidelines if you're asking for child support.
Practise your lines
After preparing your script, take time to prepare for your conference. Practise speaking to the judge. Read your script out loud. The more you practise, the more comfortable you'll be with the legal terms and the idea of speaking to the judge.
The entire conference may only last 20 minutes. Time yourself. Try to prepare a script that takes under five minutes to say.
It's best to print out your script to read from it. You're allowed to read from a phone or an ipad but that could be awkward. You can print out your script at the courthouse library or write it out on a piece of paper.
When you use your script
Don’t be surprised if the judge interrupts you to ask questions. If you lose track of where you were, you can take your time to find your place in your script. You’re allowed to ask the judge questions, too. And the judge will give you a chance at the end to look over your script and to say anything you may have left out by mistake.
Here's a little quiz so you can see how much you've learned about having a successful family management conference.
You can do this!