What Should I Know About A Colorado Initial Status Conference?
Every Court is required to schedule an Initial Status Conference (ISC) to occur within 42 days after the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage or Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR) is filed. If you are the party being served, it is in your best interest to call the court clerk to determine the date of your first hearing immediately. If you are the Petitioner, and thus, the person who initiated the case, you will likely be informed of the date of the ISC upon filing the documents that initiate the case. It is also common practice for an attorney to serve the Petition that initiated the case, along with the Summons, with a copy of the Notice of ISC so that the Respondent is aware of the ISC date and time as soon as he or she is personally served. Here is what you can expect before, during, and after your Initial Status Conference.
Before Your Initial Status Conference
To prepare for an Initial Status Conference, one of the first items on the Court’s agenda will be to inquire into the status of each party’s mandatory financial disclosures, which are governed by Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2. Many issues that may arise during your case will hinge on the information contained in the parties’ 16.2 disclosures. For instance, if parties disclose complicated facts in their financial disclosures, such as the ownership of a business, being self-employed, being potentially underemployed or unemployed, and the ownership of stock or trusts are red flags that more extensive discovery and experts are likely to be necessary in the case. Because discovery and expert involvement can extend the duration of time it takes to bring your case to a conclusion, that may be important information to know when selecting a date for a Permanent Orders hearing.
You should generally also have your parenting class completed, if applicable to your situation. You must take a parenting class if your case involves unemancipated children, even if you agree on all child-related issues. Generally, Courts ask that children are not brought to Court so it’s best to make arrangements for child care during this time.
During Your Initial Status Conference
Depending on which county you case will be heard, you will either meet with a Family Court Facilitator, Magistrate or Judge for the ISC. If you file your case as a pro-se party, in some jurisdictions, if you do not timely object to having a Magistrate hear your case and request a District Court Judge instead, your entire case will be heard by the Magistrate. This can complicate certain matters when it comes to the rights of appeal, but that is a topic for a separate discussion.
Of importance, if both parties are represented by counsel, and you are able to appear before a Judge or Magistrate for the ISC, it’s a good time to raise your most concerning and complicated issues right away. This can set the tone for the entire case – and the Judge or Magistrate can even enter interim Orders right then and there if needed. For example, if a party is alleging that the other party has substance abuse issues, the Court can Order testing to commence immediately. This is sometimes imperative to ensure the children remain safe.
Other issues that can be addressed at an ISC include whether a party expects to need a Temporary Orders hearing to address urgent issues. A Temporary Orders hearing will provide temporary solutions for issues such as child support, parenting time, the payment of debt, who may reside in the marital residence, etc. The Temporary Orders will be valid until Permanent Orders are issued subsequent to a Permanent Orders hearing.
Need More Help?
If you are in need of legal help with a divorce, consider reaching out to Nicol Gersch Petterson for a free 30-minute consultation or by looking into our Hello Divorce packages (coming soon)! Find more information at https://CoLawTeam.com or call 970.670.0378.
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