What is a case conference in my family case and what happens at one?Updated September 1

5. Go to your case conference

At your , you and your partner, and your lawyers if you have them, meet with a judge to discuss your issues. The goal is to agree on some or all of your issues without going to a or a trial.

Every conference is a chance for you to come closer to agreeing on your issues with your partner.

Your conference

The main focus of the case conference is to talk about the:

  • legal issues you and your partner have to agree on
  • ways to resolve the issues
  • information you and your partner need to share
  • next steps needed to resolve the issues

Be prepared to talk about the issues and how you would like to resolve them.

If you and your partner agree on any issue during your case 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 can also make procedural orders about:

  • Documents that you and your partner have to share. For example, the judge may order both of you to provide bank account and credit card statements to help figure out property issues.
  • Procedure or next steps needed to resolve the issues. For example, the judge may set a date for another conference.

The judge usually doesn't decide on issues that you and your partner can't agree on.

At the end of your case conference, the judge returns your case conference brief to you. It doesn't remain in your court file once the conference is over. This is because the discussions at a case conference are private and can’t be shared with another judge or used as evidence in a motion or trial.

Your next conference

If the judge thinks another case conference will be helpful, they can set a date for another one.

If you're going to another case conference, you have to prepare the same documents you prepared for this one, but they have to be updated. You also have to follow the same steps, like serving your documents, adding them to your court , and confirming your court date.

If you and your partner are not close to agreeing on your issues, the next steps are usually a settlement conference and then a trial management conference. But, a judge can decide to skip or combine conferences.

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