Even a relatively simple divorce involves a multi-step process. Thus, you should understand what is involved in a divorce procedure-wise. The stress of going through a divorce and wondering what’s next can be minimized when you know what actions and inputs are expected from you, your spouse, and your attorney.
In this post, we’d like to focus on two standard pre-trial divorce steps — Initial Status Conference (ISC) and divorce discovery. These two stages are rarely discussed but are highly impactful for reducing the cost and complexity of getting separated.
What is the Initial Status Conference?
The Initial Status Conference is your first formal encounter with the Colorado court. It’s scheduled within 42 days of the petition for divorce being filed and is mandatory to attend for both parties. Or else, your case may get dismissed.
The court may allow you to skip the ISC if:
- You have an uncontested divorce and jointly filed an Affidavit For Decree Without Appearance, a completed separation agreement, and all other court-required documents before the set date.
- You both have legal representation and your attorney filed a Stipulated Case Management Plan within 40 days after filing the petition.
If neither of the above is true, you are required to attend the ISC personally. During the meeting, the judge will provide you with the information on your case management process, collect extra mandatory divorce papers, and plan the divorce timeline. The court allows you to bring legal counsel to ISC, engage in preliminary discovery, and retain experts that could otherwise help your case. The judge, in turn, can schedule follow-up conferences, mediation, or a temporary orders hearing. Also, they will provide you with further information on setting a permanent orders hearing (if necessary).
What is Divorce Discovery?
Colorado family law provides each spouse with the opportunity to request relevant information from the other. This pre-trial exchange process is known as ‘discovery’. Divorce discovery is held outside of the court. It’s not a mandatory legal procedure, but rather a tool attorneys use to help their clients build their case and reach better separation terms.
During discovery, your ex-spouse may submit written requests to you for various financial documents. Or ask you to sit down with their attorney for a deposition — an in-person session, aimed at collecting extra information about the case. In both cases, you must answer all the questions honestly as if you are under oath. Likewise, you may request discovery from your spouse.
How to Prepare For Divorce Discovery
Discovery can become heated during a contested divorce when either of the parties is not willing to collaborate. However, it can also be a rather lax phase if you mostly agree on all matters. In either case, if your spouse initiates a discovery, it’s best to get a lawyer too.
They will act on your behalf and ensure that you are providing the necessary amount of disclosures and aren’t put under unnecessary pressure by the other party’s attorney. They can also help you collect more information for your case and provide advice on all the necessary documents that you should produce for the next court-appointed event to move forward with your divorce.
Initial Status Conference vs Divorce Discovery
Initial Status Conference and divorce discovery are two important steps of the divorce process. ISC is set and led by the Colorado courts. It’s an orientation meeting of sorts, held to discuss your case with the judge, receive preliminary timelines, and guidelines on the next steps.
Divorce discovery takes place outside of the courtroom and can be initiated by the legal counsel of either party. Discovery aims to help both parties gather extra information and evidence to present at the subsequent court hearings.