Finish a Divorce Case: Trial
Sample forms are provided to review what the forms may look like when completed.
Overview of the Process
Use these instructions when the following is true:
• A Petition and a Response were filed
• The parties cannot agree on all the issues
If you would like to obtain a trial date to resolve all the issues in your case, then you will need to prepare and file a Joint At-Issue Memorandum (Family Law).
You will need the following forms to request a trial date:
• Joint At-Issue Memorandum (Family Law) - SLO County form
• Proof of Service by Mail (FL-335) - Judicial Council form
• Certificate of Noncompliance and Order - SLO County form
You may obtain the SLO County forms for free at http://slocourts.net/. You may obtain the Judicial Council forms for free at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/. You may also purchase these forms at the court clerk's office.
Before you complete the Joint At-Issue, though, you are required to meet and confer with the other side and/or their attorney to select dates that are convenient to all parties, and to the witnesses who are expected to testify in the matter. The acceptable dates are then filled in on the form.
If you try to meet and confer, but the other side refuses to cooperate, then you may be able to file the Joint At-Issue without the other party's signature. You will have to show that you tried to meet and confer, so keep notes about your efforts to do so and also keep copies of any letters you sent to the other side about this.
To process your Joint At-Issue:
1. Meet and confer with the other side and any attorneys involved in the case. Fill out the form together, if you can, including listing acceptable trial dates. You may want to call the clerk beforehand to find out approximately when trials are being set for your particular judge. That way, you can have some idea of which dates to chose.
2. Both parties and any attorneys (such as the attorney for the minor child, if any) should date and sign the form.
3. Make 2 copies.
4. Take the original and the 2 copies to the clerk's office for filing. The clerk will keep the original and return the copies to you. As a courtesy, you should mail a copy to the other side or to their attorney, if they have one, and to the attorney for the child, if there is one.
5. The court will mail you a notice notifying you of your trial date and time. The notice may also tell you to file a trial brief before the date of the trial. This packet also gives you instructions on how to prepare a _trial brief. You can come back to see the Facilitator if you have questions about preparing the trial brief. If you do not receive a notice from the court about the trial date within 30 days of the time you file the Joint At-Issue Memorandum, then call the clerk and politely ask for the status. If the clerk tells you that you are "in line", you will be getting your notice of a trial date soon.
If you have tried to get the other side to meet and confer, and they will not do so, then you should:
1. Fill in the Joint At-Issue Memorandum, leaving the "trial dates" portion blank. Make a copy for your records.
2. Write a letter to the other side and enclose the Joint At-Issue Memorandum. In your letter, let the other side know at least 5 different trial dates that are acceptable to you and ask them to:
1 . Select three of the dates you have listed
2. Fill them in on the form
3. Complete and sign the Joint At-Issue Memorandum
4. Return the completed form to you.
Save a copy of your letter for your records.
3. Find someone to mail the Joint At-Issue Memorandum and your letter to the other side. You should not be the person who mails the form and your letter to the other side, since you cannot "serve" your own papers.
4. Fill out as much of the-Proof of Service by Mail form (FL-335) as you can, and then have the person who mails complete the rest (e.g., their address, their name, and signature).
5. Make 1 copy of the Proof of Service by Mail form (FL-335) for your records.
6. Have the person mail your letter and the proposed Joint At-Issue Memorandum.
7. Wait 15 days.
8. If the other party mails the completed Joint At Issue back to you with his/her signature, then make 2 copies of the Joint At Issue. Take the original and the 2 copies to the clerk's office for filing. The clerk will keep the original and return the 2 copies to you. As a courtesy, send one of the copies to the other side.
9. If the other side does not return the completed Joint At Issue within 15 days, then:
- Fill out the Certificate of Noncompliance form. Make 1 copy of the Certificate for your records;
- Sign your copy of the Joint At-Issue again by signing above your old, copied signature. Make 1 copy of the Joint At Issue Memorandum for you records;
- Take the original and 1 copy of each of the following forms to the clerk's office for filing:
1. Completed Joint At-Issue with your original signature
2. Proof of Service by Mail (showing that you sent the letter and the form to the other side at least 15 days earlier).
3. Certificate of Noncompliance
- In addition, take a self-addressed stamped envelope to the clerk's office so that the clerk can mail back to you the conformed copies of the documents.
10. The court will mail you a notice notifying you of your trial date and time.
The notice may also tell you to file a trial brief before the date of the trial. This packet also gives you instructions on how to prepare a trial brief. You can come back to see the Facilitator if you have questions about preparing the trial brief. If you do not receive a notice from the court about the trial date within 30 days of the time you file the Joint At-Issue Memorandum, then call the clerk and politely ask for the status. If the clerk tells you that you are "in line", you will be getting your notice of a trial date soon.