Attorneys

Family Law Cases

Family law attorneys are some of the hardest working advocates in the legal community. Are the court’s lack of resources and inefficiencies frustrating your efforts to get your clients good results at a reasonable price?

We believe your work deserves thoughtful consideration to give your clients the best shake. Many people in family litigation very much need legal counsel. We don’t believe in taking work away from family lawyers – to the contrary – we believe in helping you serve your clients as effectively as possible.

Download the Family Law Services and Pricing Sheet (for Parties with Counsel)

Summary of Services

Counsel/Party Meet and Greet (Online or In-person)

Complimentary 15-20 minute consultation with the Bennett/Ellsworth neutrals, to answer questions and help counsel determine how the neutrals can best assist the parties.

Case Management/Discovery Plans

(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals.)
Includes: Individual pre-conference phone calls with the neutrals; up to one hour joint conference time with the neutrals (in person or via video conferencing); preparation of recommendation and proposed Stipulation regarding Case Management and/or Discovery Plan (estimated total time expended by neutrals is 2.5 hours).

Facilitated Mandatory Settlement Conferences

(Bennett or Ellsworth serving as “on-call” neutral.)
Includes: Use of Smart Court’s private, luxury conference rooms in Temecula, California for up to three (3) hours; availability of an On-Call Smart Court® private settlement conference judge (Bennett or Ellsworth) for up to 1.5 hours of “spot mediation” or case/issue evaluation. Smart Court® provides the parties with a proposed “Stipulation and Order for Facilitated (Private) Mandatory Settlement Conference in Lieu of Court MSC” for filing with the court.

Flash Resolution (Short-Cause, Expedited Hearings)

(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals.)
Includes: Up to 2.5 hours hearing time; neutrals’ preparation time; individual pre-hearing phone conferences with the neutrals (estimated total time expended by neutrals is 4 hours). Parties and counsel receive both neutrals for any or all of the following:

  • Mediation of Limited Issues
  • Adjudication of Bifurcated Issue(s) (Binding or Advisory)
  • Case Evaluation
  • Recommended Discovery Plans

360º Mediation

(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals.)
Includes: Hearing time; neutrals’ preparation time; pre-mediation calls, drafting of stipulations. Mediation is scheduled by the hour, half-day or full day.

360º Arbitration 

(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals.)
May be binding as to all issues except custody, visitation and child support – use General Reference services for binding determinations of those issues.)
Includes: Arbitration hearing time; preparation/study time, Arbitration Readiness Conference (“ARC”), deliberation and drafting of Arbitration Award. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ arbitration matter. Arbitration is scheduled by the hour, half-day or full day.

Private Judging

360º General Referee (“Special Masters”)
Stipulated Referees per CCP § 638 (Appealable)
(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals to determine: (i) any or all issues in the case, whether of fact or of law; or (ii) to ascertain a fact or facts necessary to enable the court to determine the case.  See CCP §§638, 643 and 644.)

By the Hour (Minimum Two Hours)                                                                                    
Includes: Review/study time of parties’ requests/filings; hearing time, Statement of Decision. By-the-Hour billing is for short-cause matters requiring less than three (3) hours of the referees’ time, including time for hearing. Examples are Requests for Order regarding attorney’s fees, pendente lite support, custody/visitation, etc.

Long Cause Hearings – 3 Hours
Includes: Up to three (3) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 5 hours.

Half Day Hearing/Trial
Includes:
Up to four (4) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Trial Readiness Conference (“TRC”), deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 7 hours.

Full Day Hearing/Trial
Includes:
Up to eight (8) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Trial Readiness Conference (“TRC”), deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 12 hours.

360º Involuntary Referee
Appointed by Court on party motion or court’s own motion per CCP §§ 639(a)(3)-(5), 640(b).
(Bennett and Ellsworth serving as panel of two neutrals to determine: (i) any question of fact, other than upon the pleadings, which arises upon motion or otherwise in the case; (ii) questions of fact or law necessary for the information of the court in a special proceeding; or (iii) any and all discovery motions and disputes relevant to discovery in the action (where the court determines it is necessary – findings and a recommendation on the findings to be provided to the court – see CCP §§639, 643 and 644).

By the Hour (Minimum Two Hours)
Includes:
Review/study time of parties’ requests/filings; hearing time, Statement of Decision/Findings/Recommendations. By-the-Hour billing is for short-cause matters requiring less than three (3) hours of the referees’ time, including time for hearing.

Long Cause Hearings – 3 Hours
Includes:
Up to three (3) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision/Findings/Recommendations. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 5 hours.

Half Day Hearing
Includes: Up to four (4) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Trial Readiness Conference (“TRC”), deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 7 hours.

Full Day Hearing Includes: Up to eight (8) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Hearing Readiness Conference (“HRC”), deliberation and drafting of Statement of Decision/Findings/Recommendations. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by neutrals is 12 hours.

Private Judge as Judge Pro Tem

(LIMITED TO A SINGLE NEUTRAL BY CRC, RULES 2.831-2.834 – either Bennett or Ellsworth)

By the Hour (Minimum Two Hours; Short-cause or Bifurcated Issues)
Includes: Hearing time; preparation/study time, deliberation and drafting of Ruling/Statement of Decision.

Long Cause Hearings – 3 Hours
Includes: Up to three (3) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, deliberation and drafting of Ruling/Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by the neutral is 5 hours.

Half Day Hearing/Trial
Includes: Up to four (4) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Trial Readiness Conference (“TRC”), deliberation and drafting of Ruling/Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by the neutral is 7 hours.

Full Day Hearing/Trial
Includes: Up to eight (8) hours hearing time; preparation/study time, Trial Readiness Conference (“TRC”), deliberation and drafting of Ruling/Statement of Decision. Includes Smart Court® support staff, supervising attorneys, paralegals and case administrators who may work on the Parties’ matter. Estimated total time expended by the neutrals is 12 hours.

Download the Family Law Services and Pricing Sheet (for Parties with Counsel)

Get More Info or Initiate Services

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Not sure if your opposing counsel or the other party will agree to Smart Court? If If you’d like our Case Administrator to email you, opposing counsel and/or the other party information about Smart Court® family law services, just click here and we’ll take it from there.

Request a Meet and Greet

Attorney Bennett and Judge Ellsworth offer a complimentary 15-20 minute “Meet and Greet” to explore the best options for your case and answer your questions about the different processes. The Meet and Greet may be attended by counsel only, or by counsel and the parties – it’s up to you. For your convenience, you may appear via Internet Conferencing, or live at the Smart Court® office.

After your Meet and Greet, when the parties are ready to proceed, we’ll get you going. The Case Information forms, Services Agreement and fee deposit will be collected, and your Smart Court® Family Law resolution process will commence.

Ready to schedule? Let’s get going – just click here!

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Family Law Cases
Civil Cases
The 360º Approach
Family Law Cases

Family law attorneys are some of the hardest working advocates in the legal community. Are the court’s lack of resources and inefficiencies frustrating your efforts to get your clients good results at a reasonable price?

Civil Cases

We know you work hard for your clients. Like you, we believe your clients deserve excellent representation before committed decision makers and neutrals. Are the court’s lack of resources and inefficiencies frustrating your efforts to get your clients good results at a reasonable price? Smart Court’s dispute resolution services offer you customized tools to get your client to the finish line.

The 360º Approach

Kelly Bennett and Sherrill Ellsworth serve as Southern California’s only dual team of private judges, arbitrators, mediators and special masters. The unique combination of their legal knowledge and courtroom expertise is a boon to people who need immediate, quality justice, which the traditional court system cannot deliver.