What is a settlement conference in my family case and what happens at one?
4. Go to your settlement conference
Settlement conferences are held either in a courtroom or a conference room at the courthouse. If you and your partner don't have lawyers, it's likely to be in a courtroom.
Usually there is a board near the entrance to the courthouse or outside each courtroom that lists the cases being heard in court that day with their room number. If you have trouble finding this list or your room, ask for help at the court counter.
At your , you and your partner, and your lawyers if you have them, meet with a judge to discuss your issues.
Every conference is a chance for you to come closer to agreeing on your issues with your partner.
The goals of a settlement conference are to:
- discuss ways to resolve the issues
- hear the judge's opinion on how the court may decide the issues
- set the next steps needed to resolve the issues
The main difference between a and a settlement conference is the role of the judge. The judge plays a more active role at a settlement conference in trying to get you and your partner to agree on your issues.
At a settlement conference, the judge wants to hear about any attempts that you and your partner have made at settling your issues. They are also more likely to give you an opinion, or let you know what they think, about your issues.
If you and your partner agree on any issue during your settlement conference, the judge can make an order based on your agreement. Usually you write your agreement out in a consent agreement or and the judge makes it into a consent order.
The judge usually doesn't decide on issues that you and your partner can't agree on.
At the end of your settlement conference, the judge returns your settlement conference brief to you. It doesn't remain in your court once the conference is over. This is because the discussions at a settlement conference are private and can't be shared with another judge or used as evidence in a or trial.
Your next conference
If you and your partner are moving closer to settling your family law issues, you may have more than one settlement conference.
If you're going to another settlement conference, you have to prepare the same documents you prepared for this one, but they will have to be updated. You also have to follow the same steps like serving your documents, adding them to your court file, and confirming your court date.