The initial status conference (ISC) is the very first court date in a family law case, whether it’s divorce, child custody, order modification, or the like. Though it isn’t a hearing, this meeting is mandated by law, and all parties and their lawyers must attend it. What happens at this all-important meeting? How should you prepare for it? Here are answers to some common questions.
When Is An Initial Status Conference Held?
The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure mandates that the initial status conference be held within 40 days of filing the petition with the court. It may even be scheduled before the other party is served. If you are the petitioner, you will typically be informed of the schedule once you’ve filed your paperwork. If you are the respondent in the case – that is, if your spouse or another party is the petitioner – you’ll want to check with the court clerk for the schedule of the ISC.
What Are Taken Up During The ISC?
The initial status conference is when the court first listens to both parties regarding the issues between them. However, note that the ISC is not a hearing – the court simply wants to be informed on what matters need to be addressed.
The ISC also sets the schedules on how the case proceeds. Through a Family Court Facilitator who leads the meeting, the court will prescribe dates for deadlines, discovery schedules, briefing schedules, mediation, or other procedures that are deemed necessary. You can also expect to be asked about settlement discussions – whether you and the other party have discussed this prior to the meeting, and whether you believe that a settlement conference would be helpful.
In some cases, the court may enter emergency orders during an ISC, such as those for emergency support or visitation. The court may also decide to hold a separate Temporary Orders Hearing, where it can potentially enter temporary orders on matters such as child support, spousal maintenance, parenting time, and marital debts. These temporary orders are meant to be enforced during the case, until the court arrives at a final decision at the end of the case.
These are all relatively quick items, so an initial status conference typically lasts only about 10 minutes or so.
What Should I Prepare For The ISC?
Because the ISC isn’t a hearing, you don’t need to prepare testimony or evidence for this meeting. However, the Family Court Facilitator may require you to present your Sworn Financial Statement, so it’s best to bring this completed document to the conference. In certain cases involving children, you may also be required to complete a mandatory parenting class prior to the ISC.
You can attend the ISC without a lawyer, but it is always wise to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney in every step of your domestic relations case. Your attorney can also help you to effectively prepare for court appearances such as the initial status conference. Contact us at Goldman Law for representation or assistance in your upcoming ISC in Colorado.