Frequently Asked Questions

Suggestions for Organizing Family Court Files

Avoid paying your attorney his or her hourly rate to organize your file by following this suggestion.

Most family court litigants have minimal experience dealing with bureaucracies and thus many clients and potential clients tend to show up with stacks of paper lacking any organization.  I have found that this tip helps me review a file in a logical and organized fashion while giving me some idea of what might be missing from the file.  In organizing a family court file I suggest it be organized with each of the items below in separate folders.  Other than discovery, folders should be organized chronologically with the earliest material in back and the most recent material in front:

1. Correspondence (including e-mails)

2. Pleadings (filed complaint, answer, counterclaim and replies)

3. Orders

4. Motions (and returns to motions)

5. Rules to show cause (and returns to Rules to show cause)

6. Financial declarations

7. Financial information

8. Police and incident reports

9. Other exhibits (if this section is voluminous you might break it out into separate sections such as children’s medical records; children’s report cards; adultery evidence, etc.)

10. Plaintiff’s discovery to Defendant and responses (responses should be clipped to the discovery request they respond to)

11. Defendant’s discovery to Plaintiff and responses (responses should be clipped to the discovery request they respond to)

12. Subpoenas and subpoena responses (responses should be clipped to the subpoena they are responding to)

13. Transcripts

14. Plaintiff’s affidavits and affidavits filed on Plaintiff’s behalf

15. Defendant’s affidavits and affidavits filed on Defendant’s behalf

The court is a bureaucracy and, like all bureaucracies, it relies on its paperwork to determine what is going on.  Having unfiled (or, even worse, unsigned) orders, pleading, motions and rules to show cause does not allow me to determine what is in the court’s files.  If there is a discrepancy between what is in a client’s files and what is in the court’s file, the document in the court’s file is determinative.  Thus, for documents that are filed with the court (pleadings, orders, motions, rules to show cause and (generally) financial declarations) I want to have a filed copy.