WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT AT THE INITIAL CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE?

If you find yourself in a new divorce or paternity matter, upon filing, one of the first documents you will most likely receive from the court will be a Notice of what is called the “Initial Case Management Conference”.  You will hear attorneys refer to this as the “ICMC”.

All metro counties in Minnesota conduct ICMCs.  If you are in a rural county, you may not receive a Notice of ICMC.  You should contact your local court or an attorney if you have questions about whether your case qualifies for an ICMC in your county.

ICMCs were developed as part of the court’s early case intervention initiative.  The intention is that an ICMC is scheduled within the first few weeks or month of a case being commenced.  This can vary by county and judicial officer, however, based on the court’s calendar. 

The ICMC is often the first time the parties and their attorneys meet to discuss the case in person.  The goal of the ICMC is for the judicial officer to intervene in a case early to promote and assist the parties with de-escalating conflict and litigation in an effort to promote settlement.

All parties are required to submit an ICMC Data Sheet in advance of the ICMC and attend the ICMC with their attorney, if any.

The ICMC is a relatively informal, administrative court appearance.  It is not a formal hearing or trial.  There is no testimony taken or evidence presented.  Orders should not be made by the judicial officer, with the exceptions of possibly an urgent or time-sensitive order in the discretion of the judicial officer and agreements of the parties.

Even though an ICMC is less formal than a motion hearing or trial, you should conduct yourself formally at the ICMC as it is still a judicial proceeding in front of a judicial officer.  It is recommended parties arrive at court at least 10 minutes early, dress in business casual attire and speak clearly, professionally and only when instructed during the ICMC.

If you have an attorney, your attorney can assist you with preparation for and attendance at the ICMC.  Whether you have an attorney or not, you will want to be prepared to discuss the following topics that your judicial officer and/or the opposing party are likely to raise at the ICMC:

  • Identifying contested issues
  • Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation or early neutral evaluation
  • Whether an order for protection is in place
  • Valuation date (in a divorce)
  • Whether a temporary relief hearing needs to be scheduled
  • Formal and informal discovery
  • Whether either party anticipates needing experts
  • Other immediate, time-sensitive matters

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Authored by: Rebecca R. Baer, Esq.

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