Domestic Relations cases (divorces, custody, etc.) in Colorado all require an Initial Status Conference (“ISC”) be held shortly after the filing of the case. Each judicial district creates their own rules and procedures for the ISC. In the 4th Judicial District, which is El Paso County (Colorado Springs) and Teller County, the ISC must be held within 42 days of filing the Petition.
Your attorney (or the opposing Party’s attorney if there is one) will obtain the date and time for the Initial Status Conference and communicate these to you. It is mandatory that you attend the Initial Status Conference, so plan accordingly. Something rather surprising to discover about the Initial Status Conference is that other than having to be in the same room as the other Party—which can be a source of stress–you can relax. This is a very low-stress, no testimony, no arguing and no major decisions type of meeting with a Court Clerk. You will not be in a Courtroom. You will not even see a Judge or Magistrate. You will not be telling anyone about the details or facts of your case. Neither you nor the opposing Party needs to make any pointed remarks or claims or allegations against the other. If such behavior occurs, the Family Court Facilitator will likely instruct you or the other Party to save such statements and actions for when the case is in front of the Judge or Magistrate. You will be in a Clerk’s office in front of a Family Court Facilitator who is there to give you dates and deadlines and briefly explain the process. The Family Court Facilitators are friendly, professional and helpful. They play a vital role in making certain your divorce case is filed properly with all the necessary information provided (like social security numbers and addresses) and that the forms used, and the information contained, meets the jurisdictional requirements. If there are any irregularities in the initial case filings, the Family Court Facilitator can provide information of what needs to occur and how something can be accomplished.
The dates and deadlines from the Family Court Facilitator are very important. Failure to meet these dates and deadlines could have a significant impact on a case. The dates and deadlines will be for each Party to complete and file the Sworn Financial Statement and get all of the documents (also called “the Rule 16.2 disclosures”) that must be disclosed to the other Party. You will also be given a deadline to submit the names of any expert witnesses (like a parenting expert, a valuation expert, a business appraiser or home appraiser, etc.) and to complete any Court required parenting classes and mediation. The Family Court Facilitator will even give you a Court date for a Temporary Orders Hearing if you want one. A Temporary Orders Hearing is a good thing to request if you and the opposing Party cannot agree upon parenting issues or payment of bills or spousal maintenance or child support or use of marital property, like the marital home or who uses which car. The Temporary Orders Hearing gives the Parties temporary Court Orders that must be obeyed and will only stay in while the case is pending. The Family Court Facilitator can even schedule mediation which is required before any final Hearing on the case. All of the dates and deadlines will be put in writing by the Family Court Facilitator and signed by the Judge or Magistrate on your case. You will get a copy of this Initial Status Conference Order from your attorney or the Court, if you do not have an attorney.
The Initial Status Conference is a good way to start a case. It will likely be the most pleasant and least stressful Court experience you will have during a domestic relations case. It is a chance to meaningfully participate, obtain useful information necessary to your case and get familiar with what it means to come to Court and to start following the Court’s procedures and Orders.
If you’re looking to file for divorce or for child custody, Jeanne M. Wilson is the Colorado Springs family law attorney for you. Her experience with family cases goes above and beyond any other lawyer’s in town. Hire someone you trust, someone you believe in and someone who cars about you. Call for a free consultation today!