Your attorney will advise you that almost every divorce process will at some point require a conference to discuss settlement, whether it is simply a meeting of an informal nature involving the parties along with their divorce lawyers, a mediation meeting, or a conference where a judge is present, i.e., a judicial settlement conference.
What purpose does the judicial settlement conference serve?
In the divorce process, the judicial settlement conference serves the purpose of avoiding trial and its accompanying costs—e.g., time, money and the emotional toll exacted on all parties involved.
A lawyer experienced in divorce mediation knows that for most laypersons, the courtroom can be a frightening and foreboding place in which they may feel a loss of control over their future. The trial, which occurs in this frightening place, grants authority to one person, the judge, to decide matters that affect an entire family for the rest of their lives. The judicial settlement conference allows you some measure of control concerning your divorce’s outcome, as well as enables you to move forward with the knowledge that you, not a judge, made the decisions that affect your life after divorce.
What does the judicial settlement conference consist of?
A judicial settlement conference can take different forms depending on the jurisdiction. Sometimes the same judge will conduct the conference and preside over the trial; however, in larger urban courts, the settlement conference is usually assigned to one judge, while the trial assigned to another. In some settlement conferences, both the judge and the parties are involved; in others, only the lawyers are present in order to encourage candid conversation, which is often difficult to obtain if all parties are in attendance.
No matter what procedure is used in your local jurisdiction, your divorce lawyer will tell you that a judge’s involvement allows you to gain insight into her or his view regarding the legal arguments and evidence of your case. If the conference does not result in resolution, the insight you gain may result in more productive and fruitful divorce mediation between you and your spouse.