The Final Order and Decree cannot be entered until 90 days have passed since the other party was served with the paperwork (if you filed together as Petitioner and Co-Petitioner, it would be 90 days from the date of filing).
Even if you are both in complete agreement before the 90-day period has expired, the Court cannot enter the Final Order or Decree before this time has passed.
Initial Status Conference:
The Initial Status Conference is typically held with a Family Court Facilitator. The facilitator is not a judge and they cannot make decisions or issue orders in your case. The purpose of the Initial Status Conference is to check in with the parties and establish deadlines for each party to submit financial disclosures (if this has not already been done), schedule mediation, and temporary orders if needed.
Financial Disclosures are required by the Rules of Civil Procedure 16.2 and consist of two parts:
- Sworn Financial Statement – This lists all of your income and expenses as well as assets and debt. The Sworn Financial Statement will be filed with the Court.
- Financial Documents – This will include documents such as bank statements, pay stubs, and credit card statements. A complete list of the documents can be found here. The documents themselves are given to the other party (or opposing attorney) but are not filed with the Court. You will need to file a Certificate of Compliance listing the documents that were disclosed.
While you will receive an initial deadline to exchange this information early in the case, you are also required to keep the information updated as changes occur, such as a change in employment, living situation, hours worked, daycare or school costs, etc. Before a hearing or mediation, it is a good idea to review the Sworn Financial Statement to see if any changes or updates are needed. The judge or magistrate may refer to the Sworn Financial Statement in deciding how to divide property, allocate bills or spousal maintenance, so it is important that the information is accurate.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have minor children together, you will both be required to take a parenting class, “Children and Families in Transition.” The class can be taken online: Additional information can be found here.
Mediation is required before you can have a contested Final Orders hearing. You can schedule mediation through the Office of Dispute Resolution (usually during the Initial Status Conference) or request a private mediator.
The purpose of mediation is to see if you can reach an agreement on any of the disputed issues before going to a contested Final Orders hearing. You are not required to reach any agreements at mediation. If all the issues are resolved at mediation, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the agreement. This Memorandum of Understanding is binding once it is signed and will become the Court’s order in your case, so it is important to make sure you understand, and are comfortable with, the terms of the agreement.