Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.31) March 20, 2014
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a Littleton law firm practicing family law, divorce and real estate law in Littleton and the surrounding areas including Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, Cherry Hills, Roxbury Park, Bow Mar, Columbine Valley, and Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson County, I am often asked the question: Do I need a lawyer to represent me at the Initial Status Conference?
The Initial Status Conference or ISC is the first court appearance in a Colorado Dissolution of Marriage Proceeding. Upon the filing of the petition for divorce, the clerk will set an ISC which is either before a magistrate, a judge, or in some jurisdictions, a clerk called a court facilitator.
The purpose of the fifteen to twenty minute ISC is for the magistrate to sort out what are the main disputes between the parties. The parties are required to exchange their initial financial disclosures including their sworn financial statements prior to or at that time..
At the ISC, the court will inquire as to the case's issues such as the need for temporary orders or the appointment of a Child and Family Investigator. It will give the parties a deadline to file the appropriate paperwork--the Separation Agreement, Affidavit of Non-Appearance, and Proposed Decree--- to finalize the divorce.
If the parties fail to submit the final paperwork by the given deadline, the judge issues a Case Management Order which instructs the parties on how to proceed to hearing. The Court also orders the parties to attend mediation to try and resolve the case.
On the surface, the ISC appears to be a brief, routine proceeding which many people elect to do their own. This is a mistake from my experience. Court proceedings can be intimidating, especially with a subject as personal as a divorce. While the ISC is not legally difficult, it is your first appearance in front of the judge who will decide some, if not all, of your case.
I have seen cases go awry at the ISC. Judges often make orders at the initial appearance. These orders could be matters brought up by the opposing side at the conference or can just be orders made at the discretion of the judge. And if you don't like the judge's orders--which can have lasting impact on the divorce-- they are often difficult to change.
Going to court is like participating in the Olympics, you only have one shot at each event. Because you are appearing in front of a judicial officer who can issue orders, I recommend you retain an attorney familiar with family law, custody, domestic cases to accompany you to all court proceedings including the Initial Status Conference.