Except when both parties are represented, the Colorado Courts require that all new domestic relations cases attend an Initial Status Conference upon filing initial Dissolution of Marriage or Allocation of Parental Responsibilities cases pursuant to C.R.C.P. 16.2(c)(2). The purpose of the Initial Status Conference is to establish case deadlines, schedule mediation with the Office of Dispute Resolution (or ODR), set a Temporary Orders Hearing if necessary, and identify any special circumstances of the case.
Typically, the deadlines set at the Initial Status Conference will include:
- Deadline to exchange disclosures pursuant to C.R.C.P. 16.2
- Deadline to determine experts
- Deadline to attend and submit proof of the mandatory level 1 parenting class
- Deadline to schedule mediation
- Deadline to request a Temporary Orders Hearing
- Deadline to file a Notice to Set a Final Orders Hearing
Occasionally, an Initial Status Conference order will also include deadlines for the parties to file a Separation Agreement, Spousal Maintenance Worksheet and Child Support Worksheets, a Parenting Plan, a Support Order, and the Decree for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation.
If both parties are represented by counsel, C.R.C.P. 16.2(c)(C) allows counsel to submit a Stipulated Case Management Plan in lieu of attending the Initial Status Conference. The Stipulated Case Management Plan should cover all the above deadlines, outline the Colorado spousal maintenance guidelines, and outline any stipulations made by the parties.
The Initial Status Conference or Stipulated Case Management Plan must be held or filed within 42 days of filing the initial petition for Dissolution of Marriage or the Court may issue an order dismissing the case.
How to plan for the Initial Status Conference. If you’re wondering how to prepare for the Initial Status Conference, rest assured that this is considered an informal hearing. No evidence or exhibits will be exchanged or presented, no testimony will be heard, and you will likely not receive any orders related to support or property. You should plan on appearing for the Initial Status Conference ready to take notes with your schedule to review if you are requesting Temporary Orders Hearing or mediation be scheduled. Overall, the Initial Status Conference typically takes about 15 minutes per matter and an Order will be provided to the parties outlining the deadlines.
What “special circumstances” can be addressed at the Initial Status Conference? Some cases may require an emergency hearing or emergency Temporary Orders Hearing to address urgent issues related to children, temporary possession of the home, or financial issues. If your case has an emergency issue, requesting an expedited hearing at the Initial Status Conference is permissible and will allow you to bring these concerns before the court sooner vs. later. Understanding that not all issues are considered an emergency in the eyes of the court, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to identify if the court will permit an emergency hearing or if you will be required to proceed normally.
Meeting with an experienced attorney to determine what your case will require will prepare you for the Initial Status Conference. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC understand the family law courts and any potential issues that may arise. Call (719) 328-1616 to book your ½ hour-free consultation today.
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