In Minnesota, the Initial Case Management Conference (“ICMC”) is the first time that a judicial officer meets with the parties, and it is an important opportunity to lay the foundation for the rest of your divorce case. The ICMC process was created to encourage settlement of the parties through early judicial management of the case. This structure has resulted in a higher rate of early settlement which benefits everyone.
How to Prepare?
In preparation for the ICMC, the court requires that datasheets and supporting financial documents be provided ahead of the hearing. This allows the judge an opportunity to identify issues and to determine how to appropriately manage the case. When filling out the datasheets, it is important to flag certain safety or financial issues to bring to the judicial officer’s attention. It is also important to have a plan for how you want the divorce to get resolved before you get to the ICMC.
What Happens at the Hearing?
Once your case is called, the ICMC will typically last about 10 to 15 minutes. Each judicial officer handles this hearing differently. Some judicial officers are more formal, while others are less formal and simply have a call off the record. The attorneys will do most of the talking to the judicial officer if the parties are represented. The discussion will focus on the next steps in the case which is typically some form of alternative dispute resolution with a review hearing. The judicial officer will not decide any contested issues at the ICMC, such as temporary parenting time or support. The parties would have to schedule a separate motion hearing to have those issues resolved.
What are the Next Steps?
The parties will typically reconvene in court in about 60 to 90 days after the ICMC for a review hearing after the chosen alternative dispute resolution has been attempted. It is important to select an appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution at the ICMC with neutrals who are a good fit for the needs of your case. The court may recommend a Social Early Neutral Evaluation to resolve custody and parenting time issues, or a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation to resolve financial disputes. Alternatively, the parties can attend a mediation to attempt to resolve all disputes or begin the process of a Custody Evaluation to address complex parenting disputes.
Contact Jonathan R. Engel, at (952) 460-9215 or [email protected], if you need an attorney for your family law matter.