What Are Court-Ordered Settlement Conferences?
For estranged couples that have decided to go the route of a court settled divorce, some states mandate a settlement conference before the case goes to trial. To understand the mechanics of such a conference and to see how it may actually be a blessing in disguise for some, read on.
Encouraging out-of-court settlements
In states like California, the legal system is designed to ensure that divorce attorneys do their best to help clients arrive at a settlement without going to court. The means you use to arrive at a settlement is left to you – some couples might opt to go the mediation route, others may choose a collaborative divorce process, and some may end up resolving their issues or coming to some form of settlement agreement during a court settlement conference.
Court-ordered settlement conferences
As a final measure in case all others discussions have failed, or if a couple has chosen not to go the divorce mediation or collaborative divorce route, some counties in states like California require that before a trial is scheduled, the couple must participate in a court mandated settlement conference. Unlike divorce mediation which is something you might choose to do or may opt not to do, a court mandated settlement conference is not optional.
In some other regions, while they are not mandatory, such court sponsored settlement conferences can be availed of with no charges to you. This is a voluntary process, but couples do opt for it to avoid the tedious and expensive process of a trial.
What to expect
In some places, the judge who is given your case will conduct the settlement conference in the presence of your divorce attorney, as well as your spouse and his or her attorney – this is what is referred to as a judicial settlement conference. A mediated settlement conference sees the involvement of a mediation specialist.
During such court sponsored settlement conferences, you may have the chance to interact with and get advice from experienced judges and family law attorneys. With their opinions and help, you may find you are able to arrive at a settlement that is acceptable to both you and your spouse. What’s best is this saves you not just money, but months of heartache from long drawn out legal proceedings in court.
Getting divorced in California can be complicated. Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.
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