- Knowing is half the battle. - G.I. Joe
Understanding and knowing the process in your child custody will help you determine your road map for your case. As an El Paso County Family Law Lawyer, I know how important it is to know the process of your child custody matter to help determine the next steps throughout your case. In this article, I will highlight the process in your child custody matter.
Initial Status Conference
The first step after your petition for allocation for parental responsibilities has been filed and service has been completed on the other party is the Initial Status Conference or the ISC.
The ISC is usually the first time where the parties are introduced to the Courthouse. At the ISC, the parties will be given dates and deadlines for their case. Also, the parties will be told when their financials are due, when an expert needs to be appointed by and when formal discovery, if needed, is due. Both petitioner and respondent will also have the chance to request a Temporary Orders Hearing if they feel they need one. If neither party asks for a Temporary Orders Hearing, then the Court will reserve the ability to ask for a Temporary Orders Hearing at a later date.
Settlement Conference and Temporary Orders Hearing
When a party to a child custody case asks for a Temporary Orders Hearing, the Court will require the parties first participate in a Settlement Conference.
I think of a Settlement Conference like Mediation without the mediator. At a Settlement Conference, the parties must talk, in good-faith, about the issues related to the Temporary Orders Hearing. The first question that I am always asked at a Temporary Orders Hearing is whether the parties have held a settlement conference or not and if they came to any agreements.
The Temporary Orders Hearing, is usually the first real hearing the parties will have in a child custody or visitation hearing. Generally, at the Temporary Orders Hearing, the parties can have a hearing on temporary parenting, temporary child support, temporary spousal maintenance, temporary division of debts, and temporary who stays in the home.
After the Temporary Orders Hearing, the parties schedule for Mediation.
In my experience, mediation is not like it is presented on TV or the movies. In child custody mediations, the parties are in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth discussing the issues. Usually, the parties do not see each other at all.
If the parties come to any agreements at Mediation, the agreement will be written up into a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The goal of mediation is to come to agreements to either avoid a Final Orders Hearing or at least minimize the issues at a Final Orders Hearing. Thus, if the parties still have remaining issues at Mediation, they will have to have a contested Final Orders Hearing.
Final Orders Hearing
The Final Orders Hearing is the actual hearing where the parties will both argue their positions and the judge will make a ruling and order related to parenting time, decision making and child support.
If you are going through a child custody or child support case, contact the Family Law Lawyers at Springs Law Group to help you with your case. We are here to help you.