Any legal proceeding can be confusing and intimidating to anyone not familiar with the process. Here are some common terms that might appear on court documents you file or receive from an opposing party in a family law case.
Family Resolution Conference (FRC)
A court sets a Family Resolution Conference in order to provide a judge with a timetable for the case. This was formerly known as a Case Management Conference (CMC). Attendance by all parties is mandatory unless the party retains an attorney that can attend on his or her behalf. If the judge is unsatisfied with how the case progresses he or she may is able to set future dates for the parties to return to court for a settlement conference or a trial.
Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC)
An MSC is scheduled by the court in order to get the parties to settle the issues occurring in divorce, child custody and visitation, support or other family law case with the help of a settlement judge who will assist the parties in finding an agreed upon solution. Oftentimes local attorneys that have strong family law experience will volunteer their time and act as the settlement judge in these proceedings. Dates for this type of conference are usually set toward the end stage of the case, and usually once the parties have already had plenty of time to collect any necessary information needed in order to reach a settlement.
Family Court Services (FCS)
Family Code section 3170 mandates that a court shall assign an FCS date prior to the first court hearing in any dissolution case where both parties disagree on custody and visitation. On this date the parties are required to meet with a FCS mediator, who will assist the parties in finding an agreement that is in the best interest of the minor children. If the parties are still unable to reach an agreement, the mediator then prepares a recommendation that will be provided to both parties as well as the court.