THE IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION FOR THE PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE IN A NEW YORK MATRIMONIAL MATTER THE FIRST IN A SERIES
Divorce Attorney Long Island
Written by, H. Michael Stern, Esq. Divorce Attorney & Mediator
In matrimonial litigation, the most important court appearance before trial is the preliminary conference. The preliminary conference is usually the first appearance following the assignment of the judge. It is the first time the court will hear the facts of the case. Many attorneys do not adequately prepare for this conference. Many lawyers are ill prepared to briefly and concisely summarize the case, their client’s needs, or the financial disclosure that must be obtained to effectively present the client’s case at a trial.
Oftentimes, one party will control the finances of the marriage, while the other party will be in the dark as to the value and extent of the parties assets. The party controlling the assets may be reluctant to disclose those assets by providing a sworn Statement of Net Worth prior to the preliminary conference. The strategic reason for this is that it places the non-titled party at a disadvantage as he or she does not know exactly what to request at the conference. While the Court rules are clear that the Statement of Net Worth must be produced at the preliminary conference, many judges do not enforce those rules and give counsel for the titled party an extension of time to do so. Opposing counsel may mistakenly elect to complete the preliminary conference Order form at the conference without the information in the Statement of Net Worth.
The proper course of action is to request a postponement of the conference pending receipt of the Statement of Net Worth, or a specifically reserve the rights of the client as to what discovery can be requested once the Statement of Net Worth is received.
During my career, I have had to battle through such tactics, particularly in high net worth cases where discovery is obstructed at every turn. I am a highly experienced matrimonial attorney with over 30 years of matrimonial and family law experience.
If you would like to discuss your divorce issues with me, or wish to schedule a consultation, please call my office at 516-747-2290.