Don't delay divorce-initial-status-conference

What is an Initial Status Conference in California? (And How to Prepare)

Most of our clients never have to see the inside of the courtroom. And that’s exactly what our goal is. But on occasion, you will receive a mailed notice from a local county court that they have scheduled a Status Conference (SC) or Case Resolution Conference (CRC) which will require you to ‘appear’ in court – sometimes in person, but often by telephone or a video call. First off, don’t panic!

Both the SC and the CRC are designed to help you and your spouse move towards finalizing your divorce. No legal issues are usually addressed – rather, the court is interested in seeing if there is anything they can do to help move your case along. Read on to learn more.

Here is what you can expect before, during, and after your Initial Status Conference.

Status Conference

California’s Rule of Court 5.83 states that “Status Conference” refers to court events scheduled with the parties and attorneys for the purpose of identifying the current status of the case and determining the next steps required to reach disposition. Translation: Your judge wants to ensure that the correct paperwork has (or will be filed) and that you and your spouse are working towards an agreement. If you are a Hello Divorce member and have completed Step 1 (Petition) and Step 2 (Financial Disclosures) then you are good to go. If you haven’t completed Step 2, plan to tell the judge when you expect to get it done. S/he may ask you whether or not you have an agreement and if not, provide you with some resources or an option for a “settlement conference” to help you get there. If you are working together outside of court – or working with one of our mediators, just let the judge know. At the conclusion of the SC, the judge may send you on your way and tell you to submit your Judgment (Step 3), when you are done or, s/he may set another Status Conference down the road just to ensure you’ve completed your divorce.

Quick tip! Some local (county) courts have a Status Conference or Case Resolution Conference form that they want you to complete and file before your court date. If you aren’t sure, just ask us!

Case Resolution Conference

CRC’s are very similar to a Status Conference. The judge is trying to determine how close you are to dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s (i.e. finalizing your divorce). With CRC’s often the judge is a little more hands-on, creating an actual plan for you to get to settlement.  If you’re curious about the purpose of a CRC and/or learning about more specific details, check out Family Code section 2451. The most important thing to know is you don’t need to be afraid. It’s an inconvenience but it’s not anything you need to prepare extensively for. Just be prepared to share with your judge what the status of your divorce is.

Related: How to Prepare for Online Court

COVID Update: SC’s and CRC’s are currently being done by phone or video for the most part. Even courts that have resumed in-person sessions often have a procedure for requesting to appear virtually. Check with your local court to learn more. 

Bottom line: Unless your case is really contentious or complicated, you should expect that your SC will be relatively straightforward and more of a formality. The more you have completed in Steps 1-3, the less likely it is that you will have to attend Court again!

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