This is not something that comes up to often for clients representing themselves as it does for attorneys during a divorce, but it just happened to one of my clients so I wanted to address it.
This has to do with the parties agreeing to a Commissioner presiding over their divorce case instead of a Judge.
When you file for divorce, you have the right to have your divorce case heard by a judge. However, may of the Judges in the courtrooms are not full-fledged Judges, rather they are Commissioners. We won’t go into to detail regarding the differences here.
So when you go to a hearing where there is a Commissioner instead of a Judge, you have to sign a stipulation saying you agree to have your case heard by a Commissioner instead of a Judge.
If you don’t want to have your case heard by a Commissioner, you would sign a form saying you don’t agree to have your case heard by a Commissioner. This is called, “Non-Stiping” a Commissioner. Non-Stipulating a judge is common practice among attorneys in family law. Not so much because they don’t want to have their case heard by a Commissioner, but because they don’t like the Commissioner in general.
What happened to my client today is that they went to a hearing on a motion for child support. When the other party found out that he could delay the case simply by not agreeing or stipulating to the Commissioner, that was exactly what he did. Not because he did not like the Commissioner, but simply to stall the case.
What happens next is that your case has to be reassigned to another division. This happened to be at the San Fernando Courthouse where there is only 2 family law courtrooms. There is one Judge and one Commissioner.
Due to the amount of folks non-stipulating the commissioner in San Fernando they are transferring some cases to Van Nuys. At least that is what happened to our client.