Connecticut’s Regional Family Trial Docket is a special session of the Connecticut Superior Court. Its mission is to handle some of Connecticut’s highest conflict custody cases. Divorce lawyers and family court judges sometimes refer to the Regional Family Trial Docket as the “RFTD.” If the family court referred your contested custody case to the RFTD, it’s critical to understand its ins and outs. This specialized family court handles various matters related to divorce, child custody, child support, and visitation rights.
In this article, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about the Connecticut Regional Family Trial Docket. Read on for our overview of the RFTD’s purpose and functions and the types of cases handled. We’ll also delve into the procedural aspects, offering insights into what to expect when navigating this court and how to best prepare for your case.
Freed Marcroft’s team of divorce attorneys has deep experience practicing in the Regional Family Trial Docket. If you’re seeking guidance on your divorce or custody case, we aim to provide valuable insights and practical tips to navigate the RFTD successfully. So, let’s dive in and equip you with the background knowledge you need.
Purpose and Objectives of the Connecticut Regional Family Trial Docket
Connecticut established the Regional Family Trial Docket to provide a specialized forum for resolving high-conflict contested family cases efficiently and effectively. Its primary objective is to prioritize the children’s best interests in these cases, while also ensuring fairness, justice, and the protection of rights for all parties.
By concentrating on these complex and contentious cases, the Middletown Regional Family Trial Docket aims to streamline the legal process, reduce the caseload burden on the traditional family court system, and provide specialized resources and expertise to address the unique challenges associated with high-conflict family disputes.
The Regional Family Trial Docket aims to promote cooperation, communication, and resolution through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration. By encouraging parties to work towards mutually acceptable solutions, the RFTD aims to minimize the emotional and financial toll often accompanying lengthy litigation.
Potential Benefits of the Middletown Regional Family Trial Docket System
The Regional Family Trial Docket system offers several potential benefits for families in high-conflict custody cases. One key advantage is the specialized expertise of the judges and support staff assigned to these cases. One of the goals of this special session of the CT Superior Court is to have judges with extensive experience and training in high-conflict family law matters. The Connecticut judiciary branch intends RFTD judges to have particular abilities to navigate complex legal issues and high-conflict litigants and make informed decisions that prioritize the children’s best interests.
Specialized Resources & Services
The RFTD system also provides additional specialized resources and services. The court has access to mental health professionals, parenting coordinators, and other experts who can provide valuable insights and assistance in resolving disputes and developing parenting plans in the children’s best interests. For example, the Regional Family Trial Docket strives to provide a full-day pretrial to settle as many issues as possible before trial.
Furthermore, the Regional Family Trial Docket emphasizes continuity. For example, most divorce and family court cases are not assigned to the RFTD. Throughout those typical litigations, more than one judge is often involved. This streamlined process helps prevent RFTD cases from languishing in the system. The judicial branch intends this to lead to faster resolutions, ultimately saving families time, money, and emotional stress.
Finally, the RFTD strives for efficiency. For example, if the case doesn’t resolve at the full-day pretrial, the Regional Family Trial Docket’s clerks attempt to schedule trial days quickly. Whenever possible, they also schedule the trial on consecutive days without interruption. The goal is to resolve custody and visitation via agreement or judicial ruling as soon as possible.
How the Middlesex Regional Family Trial Docket Operates
The Regional Family Trial Docket operates differently from Connecticut’s traditional family court system. One notable distinction is the focus on court-provides alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). This approach aims to foster collaboration, reduce conflict, and promote more amicable solutions prioritizing children’s well-being.
When parties don’t agree via ADR, this special docket is fully equipped to handle contested hearings and trials. The court has the authority to issue orders related to custody, visitation, child support, and other relevant matters. Judges assigned to the RFTD have the expertise to navigate complex legal issues and make informed decisions based on the evidence presented.
The Regional Family Trial Docket also strongly emphasizes case management and judicial oversight. Judges actively manage the progress of each case, setting deadlines, scheduling hearings, and ensuring compliance with court orders. This proactive approach helps to maintain momentum and resolve cases promptly.
Types of Cases Handled by the Connecticut Regional Family Trial Docket
The Regional Family Trial Docket handles a wide range of cases related to divorce, child custody, child support, and visitation rights. This specialized docket is designed to handle the most high-conflict and complex cases, often involving allegations of domestic violence, substance abuse, parental alienation, or other significant issues that require careful consideration and expertise.
Some of the common types of cases that may be referred to the Regional Family Trial Docket include:
- High-conflict divorce cases involving disputes over child-related matters.
- Custody disputes where parents have significant disagreements regarding allocating parental responsibilities and decision-making authority.
- Cases involving allegations of parental alienation, where one parent has intentionally undermined the relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Post-judgment modification and enforcement proceedings related to existing custody and support orders.
- Cases involving domestic violence or allegations of abuse, where the safety and well-being of the children are at stake.
It’s important to note that not all contested family cases are automatically assigned to the Regional Family Trial Docket. In fact, most aren’t. The court carefully evaluates each case to determine whether it meets the criteria for referral. Cases that do not meet the threshold for the RFTD will be heard in Connecticut’s traditional family court system.
Key Features of the CT Regional Family Trial Docket
The Regional Family Trial Docket has several vital features distinguishing it from the traditional family court system. These features are designed to enhance efficiency and promote collaboration in Connecticut’s highest conflict family court cases involving children.
- Specialized Judges: The Regional Family Trial Docket judges have extensive experience and training in family law matters. These judges typically served as divorce and family court judges for a significant time before being assigned to the RFTD. Their expertise allows them to handle complex legal issues and make informed decisions prioritizing the children’s best interests.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: The RFTD encourages parties to engage in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to reach mutually acceptable solutions. This approach aims to reduce conflict, promote cooperation, and minimize the emotional and financial toll of litigation on parents and especially on children.
- Access to Specialized Resources: The court has access to mental health professionals, parenting coordinators, and other experts who can provide valuable insights and assistance in resolving disputes and developing parenting plans that serve the children’s best interests.
- Case Management and Judicial Oversight: Judges actively manage the progress of each case, setting deadlines, scheduling hearings, and ensuring compliance with court orders. This proactive approach helps to maintain momentum and provide timely resolutions.
- Continuity and Consistency: Cases are assigned to a designated judge who presides over all aspects of the litigation, ensuring continuity and consistency in decision-making. The intent is to reduce the need for multiple court appearances and promote a more efficient resolution process.
Differences between the Regional Family Trial Docket and Traditional Connecticut Family Court
While the Regional Family Trial Docket operates within the Connecticut Superior Court system, some key differences exist between the RFTD and the traditional family court. Understanding these differences can help you navigate the legal process more effectively.
One significant difference is the focus on alternative dispute resolution in the Regional Family Trial Docket. The RFTD places a greater emphasis on mediation and other forms of non-adversarial resolution methods. In other words, the aim is to promote collaboration and reduce conflict. In contrast, the traditional family court system may rely more heavily on litigation and court hearings to resolve disputes.
Another difference lies in the specialized expertise of the judges and support staff assigned to the Regional Family Trial Docket. The judges in the RFTD have extensive experience and training in family law matters. Connecticut’s intention is that this allows them to navigate complex legal issues and make informed decisions. The traditional family court system handles a broader range of cases. Judges throughout the CT family courts — not just in the RFTD — have extensive experience in family law. That said, it’s also true that some judges in the traditional family court are newer to family law.
Additionally, the RFTD operates with a more proactive case management approach. Judges closely monitor the progress of each case, setting deadlines and ensuring compliance with court orders. This level of oversight helps to maintain momentum and provide timely resolutions. In the traditional family court system, case management practices may vary. Additionally, there may be less direct judicial involvement in the day-to-day progress of the case.
How Does a Case Get to the Middletown Regional Family Trial Docket?
Again, most divorce and custody cases are not in the Regional Family Trial Docket. The court evaluates each case to determine whether it meets the criteria for referral. They consider factors such as the level of conflict, complexity, and the presence of significant issues like domestic violence or substance abuse in their evaluation. In almost all instances, cases in the RFTD involve an attorney for the minor children (AMC) or a guardian ad litem (GAL).
Cases may be referred to the Regional Family Trial Docket in several ways:
1. Referral by a Judge: A traditional family court system judge may refer a case to the RFTD if they believe it meets the criteria for high conflict or complexity that the RFTD handles. This referral can occur at any stage of the proceedings.
2. Request by a Party: Either party involved may request the court transfer their case to the RFTD. Your attornerequestuest to the family court presiding over the case. They will consider the merits of the request and other factors and decide.
3. Agreement by Both Parties: If both parties agree that their case would benefit from being heard in the Regional Family Trial Docket, they can jointly request the transfer. This agreement should be in writing and submitted to the judge for review and approval.
It’s essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney to assess whether your case is suitable for referral to the RFTD. An attorney can guide you through the process and help you decide on your best course of action.
Middletown Location of the Regional Family Trial Docket
The Regional Family Trial Docket is located in Middletown, Connecticut, within the Middlesex Family Court. This central location allows for accessibility from various parts of the state, ensuring that families across Connecticut can access the specialized services provided by the RFTD.
The Middletown court location has the facilities and resources to handle high-conflict custody cases. The court has dedicated courtrooms, mediation rooms, and support staff specifically assigned to the Regional Family Trial Docket.
Remember, although the RFTD is located in Middlesex County, the CT court can assign cases from anywhere in Connecticut to this special session of the superior court. In addition to the Middlesex Family Court, these Connecticut family courts can refer cases to the RFTD.
- Bridgeport Family Court
- Danbury Family Court
- Hartford Family Court
- Meriden Family Court
- Milford Family Court
- New Britain Family Court
- New Haven Family Court
- New London Family Court
- Norwich Family Court
- Putnam Family Court
- Rockville Family Court
- Stamford Family Court
- Torrington Family Court
- Waterbury Family Court
As this special session of the CT family court continues to evolve and address the challenges of high-conflict family disputes, there are opportunities for further improvements and enhancements.
Suppoareourself involved in a high-conflict custody case, and the court refers your case to the Connecticut Regional Family Trial Docket. In that case, it’s essential to seek the guidance of experienced family law professionals. Freed Marcroft’s team of divorce attorneys has extensive experience practicing in the RFTD and can provide valuable insights and practical tips to navigate the process successfully. Working with knowledgeable custody attorneys will help you understand your rights and options and share your perspective with the court.
Navigating the Connecticut Regional Family Trial Docket may seem daunting. Still, with the right resources and support, you can navigate the process successfully and achieve a resolution that serves your family’s best interests. Please contact us to discuss this.