Divorce Process – First Appearance and Case Conference

Divorce Process – First Appearance and Case Conference

Once the Mandatory Information Program session is completed, the next step in the divorce process is a first appearance or first court date. The first appearance is scheduled by a court clerk when one of the parties in a divorce files an application. The first appearance at a court case is when the judge and clerk make sure all necessary documents have been filed. For more information on Mandatory Information Programs, please see our article entitled “Divorce Process – Mandatory Information Programs”.

The judge must hold a case conference in every family law matter that the parties want to go to court.

A case conference is typically the first time the parties will speak to a judge about the issues in the case. There are many purposes for holding a case conference, some of which include:

  1. Discussing the chances of settling the case;
  2. Identifying issues that can and cannot be resolved;
  3.  Ensuring that both parties have shared all of the information necessary to resolve the issues;
  4. Setting a date for the next step in the case; and
  5. The Court takes a series of steps in advance before the case comes to trial.

Case Conferences

A case conference can be scheduled by the parties, a judge, or a court clerk. Parties are required to attend before their case can move forward. Parties need to send documents and fill out financial disclosure forms in order for case conference meetings. Case conferences happen with divorcing couples to help decide what will happen with property and money.

The parties of a case must file Form 17F, which is the Confirmation of Conference before their conference with the court. The content of this document is a list of what to discuss and submit. A judge can provide suggestions during a case conference to help the parties, but they are not legally binding.

In addition to suggestions, the judge can also order parties to give each other any outstanding financial documents or order one party to pay the other party’s costs for the case conference.

If the divorcing couple is unable to resolve their issues at the case conference, the next step in the divorce process will be a settlement conference or a motion, both of which are discussed in further detail in our posts entitled “Settlement Conferences” and “Motions” in the divorce process.

If you are going through a divorce and want help, do not hesitate to contact this law firm. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here. We highly discourage anyone from seeking out legal advice through this article.

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