What is a Status Conference in a Divorce Case in Arizona?

Getting divorced is not something that most people think about when they are getting into a marriage, but it can become the outcome no matter how much dedication or commitment you have when you first get married. Some marriages are destined to fail, and divorce may be the only outcome.

The truth is that in many instances, one or both sides are quite happy to get away from the other. Divorces can be ugly, creating a situation where one spouse becomes angered by the other or where the two are in such odds that being away from each other is the only real outcome that will create any kind of sanity for them both.

First Steps of a Divorce

The divorce proceeding begins when one of the spouses decides that it is time to file for a divorce. The divorce proceeding itself is initiated when there is a formal filing of a petition or complaint. This is a written document that basically states why it is that the person is seeking to get divorced and what they are seeking as part of the divorce decree.

This can be such things as who will get what property, if child support or alimony will be paid and who will get custody of the children. But it is not just limited to these three things.

After the one spouse has filed the petition, the other is then able to provide a response to the court. The response can include such things as their direct answer to allegations made within the initial filing, as well as requests they are making related to child custody, spousal support, or other issues.

Status Conference

Once this filing has been made, either party can request something known as a status conference. The purpose of this filing is to set what will be the overall schedule for the divorce proceeding itself. This will include deadlines for when documents and depositions will be made, as well as when any filing will be accepted. The court is also likely to set exact dates for hearings which can be agreed upon by the court and both parties involved. A trial date may even be set at this point.

The agreement of these dates is not only determinant upon available times by the court, but also when both parties and their attorneys are available. You may find that certain deadlines or appearances do not require either of the parties to attend as long as their attorneys are present. Either or both can be at any court appearance date, but some may not require their presence.

Where Does the Status Conference Take Place?

This conference is considered to be an informal meeting, which is usually held within the chambers of the judge who will be presiding over the divorce proceeding. A status conference is not recorded in any way, nor is it transcribed by a court reporter. In many instances it can actually be done over the telephone.

If a status conference is done over the phone it is required that both parties be in the presence of their attorney or, if one or both parties are not represented by an attorney, that both are on the telephone to be able to respond to the judge’s questions and said court dates.

This is the standard practice in most courts, however, in some jurisdictions you may find that the status conference is viewed as a formal court proceeding. What this means is that it is actually done in open court where the entire proceeding is either recorded or transcribed by the court reporter. As with any other court proceeding, this is a very formal process, or both parties are required to follow the guidelines stipulated in the court rules.

What Can Be Accomplished in a Status Conference?

While the purpose of this conference is to set a series of tentative dates so that a schedule of proceedings can be determined, this does not limit the scope of the proceedings themselves. Often times, there can be discussions related to a settlement if the two parties have advanced that far within their discussions as to who will have what rights and privileges.

The more issues that can be resolved by the two parties without the court’s intervention, the better off the two are going to be. While this is not commonly discussed, the fact remains that neither side really benefits from the court’s intervention into the divorce proceeding.

Consider for a moment that you are asking a third party to determine who deserves what property, who should have custody of the children, and how money should be paid to support the one parent who is caring for the child. This is not something you should be letting an outsider determine, because they don’t know what is in the best interest of your children.

If there is the possibility that issues can be resolved during the status conference, then you should by all means do your best to try to remedy them. This will save you a lot of heartache, and will prove to the court that you are really acting in the best interest of your children when you and your spouse can make decisions that make sense for the entire family.

Consult With a Divorce Attorney

Before making any final decision upon any matters, you should consult a divorce lawyer to see if the decisions you are making are really in the best interest of you and your children. Sometimes, decisions are made in the heat of the moment that are not in your best interest.

All the decisions that are made about important things, such as division of assets and child custody, will be decided during a divorce proceeding. You not only want to make sure that you are acting in the best interest of your child, but that you are set up to have a successful and happy future.

At JacksonWhite Law, our family law team has been helping Arizona families with their divorce proceedings for over a decade.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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