What’s a court docket and how do they work?

Docket dates in family lawWhen individuals have a court date in a family law matter, they do not realize that they are on a docket. Many do not even understand what a docket is or why it matters.

Obviously, in different states and different jurisdictions, dockets can work differently. It is also true that different judges can handle their dockets differently.

But a docket is where there are multiple cases set at the exact same time. In certain circumstances, a court could have a docket with all kinds of cases on them with various issues.

There could be cases on a docket that are set simply for status or scheduling issues. In other words, the court might just want a status in terms of where the case is at in terms of settlement negotiations, outstanding discovery issues, the procurement of expert reports, etc. The case also might simply be set for a pre-trial or settlement conference.

In other circumstances, the court could have various motions set on their docket. Put simply, there could be cases that are not set for a final trial, but they could have motions set on various issues. The motions could involve discovery issues. They could involve requests for mediation, the appointment of a guardian ad litem or a there could be a motion to set the case for trial, etc.

There could even be cases set for hearing on a judge’s docket. For example, there could be order of protection hearings, temporary custody and support hearings (known as PDL motions), motions for contempt and other issues.

Even with trials, cases are set on a docket. In some instances, a court may have multiple trials set at the same day and the same time. If the 1st case were to go to trial for example, the cases behind it usually are not reached.

The reality is that if you have a court date in your case, and you are on a docket, you probably want to know (if you can discover) where your case is at on the docket. Are you the 1st case on the docket?  Or are you the 50th case on the docket? The difference can matter as to how long you are waiting. In some instances, your case might not even be reached on the docket and the matter could be continued. In certain situations, a docket could even be comprised of hundreds of cases depending how backed up the judge’s docket might presently stand.

Docket court dates can be terribly frustrating for clients. Many think there case will be heard quickly, but end up disappointed when they wait all morning or afternoon for their case to even be reached. This is why it is important for most clients to clarify the nature of the court date. If it is a docket date, clients often have to temper their expectations if their case is not high on the list on the judge’s docket.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, and you have a court date set in your case, you can call Stange Law Firm, PC at 855-805-0595.


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