The first court appearance that we make in any divorce case involves something called an initial case management conference or an ICMC. The purpose of an ICMC is to meet with the judge on an informal basis.
The litigants and the lawyers will sit down and talk with the court about the size and shape of your case, discuss what issues may be in dispute, and also talk about what issues may be agreed upon fairly early.
If there are disputed issues, the court will likely encourage the litigants to participate in a program called early neutral evaluation, and the fundamental purpose of that ICMC is to receive that early neutral evaluation referral.
The other purpose of an ICMC is to place any early agreements on the record. For example, if you and your spouse agree on custody or parenting time right away, it may be appropriate to put that agreement on the record so that you can bind one another on a full and final basis.