Preliminary Conference: What Is It?

Preliminary Conference: What Is It?

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Divorce has become a common occurrence in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But sometimes a divorce process can be stressful and time-consuming.

If you receive a notification about a preliminary conference, then you know that your spouse has initiating the process of having your divorce case go through the court system.  One of the factors that determine the duration of a divorce case is the Divorce Law Garden City NY firm you have hired.

A look at the divorce process

The divorce process officially begins after one spouse files a Summons in an Action for Divorce and serves it properly to the other spouse. The deadline for the defendant spouse to appear is twenty (20) days.  

After being served with the Summons, if a spouse doesn’t respond within the required time period, he or she risks facing a default judgment, wherein the initiating spouse could possibly obtain a “wish list” of requested relief. 

Whereas some couples decide to negotiate and reach an agreement without having to go to court, other face what appear to be insurmountable obstacles at the time, and feel they have no choice but to seek judicial relief.

What is a preliminary conference?

A preliminary conference refers to a meeting between the divorce attorneys for both sides of the divorce case and a judge assigned to the case.  Since COVID-19 19 protocols have been put into effect in the Court systems, all preliminary conferences have been held virtually.  In Nassau County, in particular, the conferences are held via Microsoft Teams.

How should you prepare for a preliminary conference?

It is difficult to prepare for a preliminary conference, because it often occurs at the onset of litigation, when information is not readily available about your spouse’s finances.   However, you will need to work with your attorney to complete a Unified Form which your spouse must also complete prior to the preliminary conference.  The Unified Form will require basic background information for both parties, and time limits for disclosure of assets.  You should also meet with your Garden City divorce lawyer and provide him or her with enough financial information to complete your Statement of Net Worth prior to the preliminary conference.   In this way you and your attorney can anticipate and respond to your spouse’s request for information and or judicial relief, and can have a better idea of your requests will be.

What should you expect at a preliminary conference?

The purpose of the preliminary conference is to identify issues, the need for outside experts, such as appraisers and or forensic evaluations, provide for interim relief, if necessary, and establish discovery deadlines.  During a preliminary conference, the attorneys for both spouses have a chance to present and resolve any pending issues in the case. The court will review the form prepared and signed by the parties and their attorneys, and give an additional date for the parties to complete their discovery. By the time the preliminary conference comes to an end, you will definitely have an idea as to how long the entire process will take.

Who is allowed to attend the preliminary conference?

All of you will be required to attend the preliminary conference.   It is always best to meet with your Garden City divorce attorney beforehand to prepare and make sure that you are on the same page during the conference.  

Working with your lawyer

A divorce process can be stressful and protracted if there is no proper planning and preparation. It is always good to hire an experienced divorce lawyer from Fass & Greenberg to make the process smooth and seamless.

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