What is an Initial Status Conference?
This guide provides introductory information concerning the Initial Status Conference (hereinafter, "ISC"), which occurs in almost every dissolution of marriage or allocation of parental responsibilities matter in Colorado pursuant to C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2(c) and the Court's Case Management Order (CMO)
Introduction.A common acronym you will hear in your divorce or custody matter will be "ISC," which is simply an abbreviation for the "Initial Status Conference" in your case. The initial status conference is mandated typically by both C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2(c), and your Judge's or Magistrate's Case Management Order (CMO), which issues at the very beginning of the case. Depending on the jurisdiction, either the Petitioner will be responsible for contacting the Court's clerk to set the date, or the Court will automatically set the date and issue a Notice of ISC near the start of the case. In terms of timing, pursuant to Rule 16.2, the ISC must occur within 42-days of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The ISC is usually the very first court appearance you will have in your case. To note, this may be the last court appearance in your case too in the event full-settlement is later obtained and both parties are represented by counsel.
All parties and counsel, if any, shall attend the initial status conference. At that initial conference, the parties and counsel shall be prepared to discuss the issues requiring resolution and any special circumstances of the case. The court may permit the parties and/or counsel to attend the initial conference and any subsequent conferences by telephone.
If both parties are represented by legal counsel, you will meet with the Judge or Magistrate assigned to your case; if one of the parties is represented, or neither party is represented by a lawyer you will likely meet with the Family Court Facilitator (FCF) to conduct the ISC. Family Court Facilitators shall not enter orders but may confirm the agreements of the parties in writing. Agreements that the parties wish to have entered as orders shall be submitted to the judge or magistrate for approval.
At the initial status conference, the court shall set the date for the next court appearance. The court may direct one of the parties to send written notice for the next court appearance.
Can the ISC be Vacated?Yes, under certain circumstances the ISC can be vacated. If both parties are represented by counsel, the Court may permit the parties to file a Stipulated Case Management Plan (SCMP) in lieu of attending the ISC. Counsel shall also exchange Mandatory financial Disclosures and file a Certificate of Compliance. The filing of such a plan, the Mandatory Disclosures, and Certificate of Compliance shall exempt the parties and counsel from attendance at the initial status conference. The court shall retain discretion to require a status conference after review of the Stipulated Case Management Plan.
How to Prepare for the ISC.Be sure to have all of your mandatory financial disclosures exchanged with the opposing party and your Sworn Financial Statement (SFS) and Certificate of Compliance filed prior to the ISC. More so, speak with your attorney to determine whether you need to request a forthwith hearing on temporary orders and what type of expert witnesses you may need to advise the Court of. Lastly, be prepared to confer with the other side about selection of a mediator as the Courts will often issue an Order requiring alternative dispute resolution (typically mediation) to occur subsequent to the initial status conference occurring. Consequently, it is prudent to know who would be a good fit as mediator for your case prior to the ISC.