The Diavorce Solutionist

Last week I started a 3-part series on incorporating strategy in Family Court appearances. The goal is to show you how having a solid game plan enables you to position your case advantageously. Last week I focused on the first court appearance in custody or divorce, the Initial Conference. This week’s focus is on using the Family Court appearance that follows the Initial Conference, the Family Court Status Conference as part of creating your strategy.

What the Family Court Appearance Status Conference Is

A status conference, in divorce or custody, gives the parties the chance to update the court on what has occurred since additional documents have been filed, to follow up on how temporary orders are working, or to check-in whether certain conditions have been met. The court will want to know how things have been going with respect to visitation to see if things can be resolved without a trial. If at the last court appearance either of the parties was self-represented, the court will want to know if that party(ies) hired a lawyer.

If the judge ordered certain procedural things, like a drug/alcohol screening, a mental health evaluation, or a home investigation, it would follow up with whether those things have been done. Also, if a GAL has been appointed, then the court will want to know the status.

The Goal of the Family Court Status Conference

Family Court, like most other courts, has an interest in saving time and resources. This means that the judge will always aim to get the parties to settle their case.  Family Court appearance Status Conference in custody or divorce is slightly different than the Initial Conference. The court’s hope is that by employing the tactics or measures mentioned above, they will flush out the perceived issues from the real ones. A custodial parent who insists that the noncustodial parent is incapable of taking care of their child for more than a few hours may realize that that’s not a real concern. The court will examine resolution tactics outside of a trial, like mediation. If the court decides on an alternative dispute resolution, it will set dates for the parties to adhere to.

A Discovery plan might also be discussed at a status conference. This usually entails setting rules & restrictions on Discovery as well as a timeline for the exchange of Discovery.

The last major thing to be addressed in a status conference is overall scheduling. In addition to setting dates for mediation and Discovery, the court will also set a deadline for any motions or amendments to petitions. In addition, the court might establish a pretrial conference date and a trial date.

The process for the status conference might differ when both parties and one party is self-represented. The court will try to encourage pro se litigants to get an attorney at this stage of the case with the thinking that they’d be more inclined to settle.

Using this Family Court Status Conference Strategically

This is the time to use what you have gathered outside of the courtroom, because of the court’s directions, to your advantage. In other words, the orders the court issued, the procedures the judge directed, etc. all offer you vantage points that didn’t exist before. You might have had suspicions about some issues that question the other party’s “fitness” as a parent. Or questions about the safety conditions of the other party’s home. Or speculation about the mental or physical health of the other parent. Either way, the status conference is the ideal time to gauge the court’s position on these specific issues. If, for instance, you mentioned your concern about drug abuse and the judge ordered drug screenings, then this shows that the judge takes this issue seriously. How many times have you raised concerns in court that were dismissed by the judge, often I bet? But if the judge thinks the issue, you raise has some semblance of merit, they will respond accordingly.

The other strategic way to use the Status Conference is by incorporating the information you acquired to help you decide if you should settle or proceed to trial. At this stage of your case, there have been several discussions about settling at least a portion of your case. However, having the results of tests or investigations only helps you to make a much more informed decision when it comes to negotiations.

And last, if you are pro se (self-represented) you can learn a lot about the court process, the laws, and the local procedures at the status conference. You should always be on full alert, listening, watching, and taking mental notes.

In Conclusion

Every stage of your case offers some advantage as it progresses along. You might see going to court as a war zone, triggering all sorts of emotion, while I see it as an opportunity. Any time you are in an environment where you can learn the opposing party’s objective, you should see it as a potential advantage.

My new Pro Se Family Court Membership Program is the perfect solution to your custody or divorce situation.  Having a solid game plan that focuses on using strategy can make or break your case.  Interested in the details? Check here.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

long-distance co-parenting

Co-parenting can be challenging when both parents live within the same state or certain distance of each other. However, during long-distance co-parenting, it can complicate things ever more so. Particularly when the parties have joint custody, mainly joint legal, it can cause major problems with enforcement.

Co-parenting Agreements or parenting plans for long-distance parents usually look different than for those who within a 50 mile radius of each other for example. Between scheduling time, facilitating visits, staying on the loop amongst a few things, the agreement needs to address all of these things in more detail.

Best Interests of the Child Custody Each State 

Sharing Information in Long-Distance Co-Parenting

The Agreement or plan should go in depth about how the long-distance parent can stay informed of doctor visits, medical decisions, school events, school reports, etc. So using email, co-parentings apps, text messages etc. are a good means. In addition, the noncustodial parent should have the contact information for school personnel, medical providers and whomever has regular contact with the children with respect to education, health and extracurricular activities. The custodial parent should provide these to the other parent without any lapses.


Video chatting and phone calls should also take place on a different schedule than if both parents live close by. The actual schedule for these should take into consideration any time differences as well as the parties schedule. Of course the age of the child should be considered but allowances should be made for the circumstances as well.


Travel may be a huge obstacle for the noncustodial parent when it comes to exercising visits. So when it comes to planning visits the logistics of travel should be priority. Inclement weather, means of transportation, costs to travel etc. should be factored in when creating the Agreement or plan.Also work and school schedules can certainly make long-distance visits formidable. Careful planning is necessary with respect to choosing vacation, mapping out school breaks and such. It is important to stick to schedules as much as practicable so that other planned visits are not thrown off.


The one thing that is paramount to any long-distance co-parenting relationship working is parties flexibility.  Things happen when parents are local let alone when there is distance between them. As I mentioned above, weather, schedule conflicts, sickness etc. can interfere with even the well planned out visits.If the noncustodial chooses not to exercise their visits or maintain contact that’s one thing. On the other hand, when exercising visits is out of their control the custodial parent’s willingness to work around will be looked at favorably by the court.

Making it Work

With today’s technology there’s no reason why long distance co-parenting should be near impossible. Between apps for communication, note taking, calendaring and so there’s a plethora of ways to make it happen smoothly. In addition, Skype, social media, text messaging makes staying in touch a feasible task.The parties should make an effort to discuss and agree on which tools will be used. Exploring what works for both parents based on their family’s specific needs is the key. The tools chosen should be included in the agreement but again flexibility is necessary.

In conclusion

“Normal” co-parenting is not impossible when parents live some distance apart. With careful planning, consistency and flexibility co-parenting with distance in between is doable.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you in your co-parenting, custody or visitation case please feel free to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

Need help in handling your Family Court case on your own?

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