Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC)

The Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) in Minnesota is an early hearing where the court “fleshes-out” particular divorce issues.

Common issues include:  child custody, child support, property division, spousal maintenance, and other related issues.

Dakota County, Minnesota Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC)

Like many counties in the State of Minnesota, Dakota County has specific rules regarding the scheduling, attendance at, and procedural aspects of the ICMC.  Many of the rules associated with ICMC’s are not unique to Dakota County, but are universal in every Minnesota county.

In any action, the court may, in its discretion, direct the parties and their attorneys (or just the parties if they are self-represented) to appear for the conference before trials to:

(1) expedite the disposition of the divorce action;

(2) establish early and continuing control so that the case is not drug out due to the lack of a cohesive case management statement;

(3) discourage any time-consuming and potential “wasteful” pre-trial activities;

(4) improve the quality of the trial through more thorough preparation;

(5) facilitate and encourage settlement of the case through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); mediation, parenting-time evaluations, and other evaluations.

ICMC as valuation date for division of marital assets

Many county judges consider the ICMC hearing to be the valuation date for the case.  What is the significance of the valuation date?

Basically, a valuation date is the date at which the court divides any increase or decrease in any marital debt or asset.  Essentially, it is important to the division of marital property.  In sum:  the value of any asset or debt cannot change from that date forward.

Thus, if there is a retirement account worth $100,000 at the time of the ICMC, and that account increases to $150,000 by the time the case is resolved, the court will use the $100,000 as the value for division of the marital asset.

The same is true for the valuation and division of a marital debt.

Let us say that a husband has a credit card debt in the amount of $10,000 in his name alone.  The credit card debt would normally be a marital asset.  However, the court will use the ICMC date to find that the value of that debt is $10,000 and not $10,500 or greater.  Clearly, credit card debt can go up based on many factors including interest and late fees.

In this scenario the wife would want the debt amount to be clearly listed as $10,000 at the ICMC so that she would not be obligated to continue paying on any further debt associated with that credit card.

Additional issues often discussed at an ICMC

Minnesota Adoption Lawyers - Flanders Law Firm LLCThe participants at any ICMC may consider and take action with respect to:

(1) the forming of all case issues (child custody, support, etc) – including getting rid of frivolous claims or defenses;

(2) whether the parties wish to amend their original pleadings (Complaint, Answer, Counter-Petition, etc);

(3) whether the parties can agree on certain facts and “admit” to such facts so that they do not need to be litigated (presented at trial);

(4) the avoidance of unnecessary admission of evidence;

(5) identifying witnesses and exhibits which will be used to present a case at trial;

(6) the possibility of settlement or the use of “extra-judicial procedures” to try to reach a resolution to the divorce;

(7)  resolving any pending motions;

(8) such other matters which might aid in the speedy and just resolution of the case.

Early Neutral Evaluation and Financial Early Neutral Evaluation

In Dakota County, Minnesota, the courts will also utilized the ENE or FENE process.

The First Judicial District website provides further information about Dakota County early neutral evaluations.  Divorcing couples can choose  to participate in:

  1. a Financial ENE (“FENE”) to resolve their financial disputes and/or,
  2. a custody and parenting time (Social ENE or “SENE”) to resolve their disputes regarding their children.

In my opinion (in the majority of instances) FENE and SENE are great programs.  The benefits associated with the early neutral evaluation include:

  • lessened fees for attorneys and court costs for litigated divorces
  • increased cooperation for divorcing couples
  • decrease in the amount of time spent in court and the length of the divorce
  • less hurt feelings and anger typically associated with contested divorces and trials
  • quicker more efficient process

Final Thoughts on the ICMC Process

As a practicing attorney, I believe that the ICMC process is essential in resolving divorce, child custody, child support and other related family law disputes.  A divorce or other family law matter is a very difficult time in many people’s lives.  The ICMC conference – at its best – helps to alleviate the costly emotion and monetary burden on the participants.

For further information about the ICMC process or if you have other questions of a Minnesota divorce attorney, contact Flanders Law Firm LLC at 612-424-0398 or contact the firm via email at [email protected]

 

Click on the following link for a PDF copy, or click below for a JPEG copy of the form:  (ICMC) Initial Case Management Conference Data Sheet – Flanders Law Firm LLC

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