The Meet and Confer Requirement

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Child Custody & Visitation, Child Support, Divorce, Restraining Orders

You may often hear, while in Court with your attorney, the Judge asks if counsel has met and conferred yet and you may be wondering what that means and why we must do it?

There is a “meet and confer” requirement when filing and litigating a Request for Order amongst numerous other scenarios where counsels have a duty to meet and confer with other counsel or the other party, if self-represented. This is a requirement under California Rule of Court 5.98, which states, “All parties and all attorneys are required to meet and confer in person, by telephone, or as ordered by the Court, before the date of the hearing relating to a Request for Order. During this time, parties must discuss and make a good faith attempt to settle all issues, even if a complete settlement is not possible and only conditional agreements are made. The requirement to meet and confer does not apply to cases involving domestic violence.”

All in all, this means that we absolutely must discuss with the other side and make a good faith attempt to settle the issues of the Request for Order and often is why you will see the Court ask if we met and conferred and force parties into the Courthouse hallway to do so. I have often had it happen where there was multiple meet and confer attempts/conversations and the Court will still send you out into the hallway to discuss further to see if any issues can be resolved prior to argument before the Court.

I prefer this meet and confer requirement as I often tell my clients that making a settlement and compromising where you are willing to compromise is 9 out of 10 times going to be better than the orders the Court makes. The Court, in general, has 20-30 minutes to hear each Request for Order on their calendar that morning or afternoon. This means that in 20-30 minutes, the Court will have to hear arguments from both sides and make a decision with very little information. That’s where attorneys come into play, to essentially assist the Court in making decisions that we feel will work best for our clients as we know and understand the intricate issues of your case as the Judge often will not be able to understand every detail and issue in just 20-30 minutes.

Clients often do not want us to speak with the opposing party or believe it to be pointless as they have not been able to work through these issues with them previously, however, in most circumstances we must. The other reason I prefer meet and confer requirements is because even if we cannot settle the issues, it gives us some insight as to what opposing party/counsel will argue when we get to the Request for Order hearing and often helps us prepare counterarguments and evidence to the contrary.