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What is the Initial Status Conference in a Divorce?

The initial status conference or “ISC” is the first time you and your spouse will go in front of the court. If you have an attorney, you will attend the conference in person and with your attorney. The judge will probably be present and it is often (but not always) this judge who will eventually decide your case. The primary purpose of the initial status conference is to allow the parties and the court the opportunity to discuss what is going on in the case. The way that the court treats each case is very different as each case is different—particularly divorce cases.

For example, some cases involve domestic violence or child endangerment issues. These case need special attention and the judge will address these concerns at the ISC. However, most ISC’s focus on one question: Is the “status quo” being preserved?

Throughout the divorce, the law requires that the parties maintain the “status quo” by not doing things that are out of the ordinary. Although the law on this point is complex and vague, a general rule of thumb is that you should spend money in the same way you did before the divorce started, refrain from moving assets and cash around, and continue to parent your children well. Spouses who cancel credit cards, move cash out of banks, sell assets, or disrupt the co-parenting arrangement are not seen kindly by courts. At the ISC, both attorneys will address whether the status quo is being properly maintained and, if not, will ask for temporary orders.

 

Common Question: Do I need to speak to the Court at the initial status conference?

No. If you have an attorney, your attorney will speak on your behalf. The judge may ask questions, but your attorney will respond for you.

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