First Appearance

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Divorce, Family Law, Mediation Services, Parenting Rights & Custody

Nearly all family law cases are heard by a judge in the Circuit Court-Family Division.  The Family Division handles cases involving divorce.  It also handles cases involving parenting actions between unmarried persons.  Parenting actions used to be called “custody” or “visitation” cases.  Parents in divorce or parenting actions involving children under the age of 18 must attend an initial session at the court house known as a “First Appearance.”  The First Appearance session is scheduled in a few weeks after a case is filed at the Family Division court.  The First Appearance session is held in a court room with a Family Division judge providing information about the Court process and the important role of parents in the process.  Parents are provided with written information about the court process, mediation and how to work toward resolving their case without litigation.   Parents are also provided information about scheduling their attendance at the Child Impact Program.  All parents of minor children must attend this mandatory parenting class.  At the end of the First Appearance session, parents schedule the next event in their case – either a case manager conference, mediation, or a court hearing.  Attendance by parents at the First Appearance session is mandatory, unless specifically excused by the Court.  No action is usually taken by the Court until the parents attend the First Appearance.