When a Hearing Is Required
Failure to AgreeIf the two parties cannot come to an agreement at the conference, a hearing will be scheduled. The officer may enter a temporary order, also called an interim order, for 100% of the recommended amount if this is a new case. The support case then will be scheduled to be heard by a hearing officer. A hearing officer is a lawyer appointed by the judges of the Family Court to take testimony on support cases, and make decisions regarding the amount of support. The hearing will usually be held about six to eight weeks after the conference.
At the HearingThe hearing will be recorded, and the rules of evidence shall apply. The hearing officer will hear testimony from the parties and admit documents into.
Following the hearing the hearing officer’s recommendation will be mailed to the parties.
Exceptions to the Hearing Officer’s Recommendation Either party may file an appeal (called exceptions to the recommendation), within 20 days of receiving the recommendation.
Exceptions allow the parties to argue before a judge of the Family Court that the support order is improper. This appearance before the judge is called Argument Court. Meanwhile, the hearing officer’s recommendation becomes an order of court, which both parties must follow until the judge rules on the case and enters the final order.
Usually exceptions are filed by one or both of the parties’ attorneys, but it is possible to file them yourself. If you file exceptions, and the hearing was recorded, you must pay for the tape of the recorded hearing to be transcribed (typed). In your exceptions filing you must specifically state the reasons you disagree with the support order entered. These reasons fall under errors in the finding of facts or errors in the conclusion of law. Once the tape is transcribed, Court Administration schedules a hearing date for Argument Court. The parties or their attorneys file written summaries of their position (briefs) to the Judge. On the date of the Argument Court hearing, the parties or their attorneys argue their clients' position, then, after reviewing all of the evidence, the Judge gives a final decision.
Temporary Versus Final Court Orders
Please note: If exceptions are not filed within 20 days, the recommendation will become a final order of the court. If exceptions are filed, the recommendation will become a temporary order. When support exceptions are pending, the temporary order must still be complied with. Failure to comply with the provisions of the temporary order while support exceptions are pending will trigger all available enforcement remedies.