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Understanding a Divorce Settlement Conference

Posted on August 13th, 2020 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

While Hollywood might portray many divorces in a very dramatic way, they don’t always look like this. In fact, as an experienced divorce lawyer might tell you, most couples will never even see the inside of a courtroom. Some complicated, contested, or high net worth divorces will need to go to trial, but a majority of couples will be able to put aside their emotions and settle their issues outside of court. If you are someone who is divorcing and wishes to avoid court, it may be possible to settle in a conference. 

A divorce settlement conference is often much faster than a court proceeding and can save you thousands of dollars. It also gives you and your spouse control over the final terms. Whereas, if you take your divorce to trial, a judge will make the final decisions based upon the laws of your state. 

What You Can Expect in a Divorce Settlement Conference

A conference for a divorce settlement should not be confused with a court date or a hearing. Rather, this is an opportunity to sit down with your spouse, and very likely, your divorce lawyers. You will be encouraged to review any issues or concerns related to the case and work together to come to an amicable solution. These conferences are voluntary and usually done in a structured setting. You don’t have to bring a divorce lawyer to the conference, but it can help. A lawyer can assist in expressing your wishes and ensure your rights are protected. 

Mandatory Divorce Settlement Conferences

In some cases, a judge will order a settlement conference. If this happens, the conference might be held in a courtroom with a judge or with a mediator in a private room. A mandatory conference might be ordered when the case will otherwise go to trial. They may be a final effort made on the part of the judge who believes a compromise is possible. Most divorce lawyers know of clients who were sure that a compromise would be impossible and viewed the conference as a waste of time, only to find that it was successful. 

The best advice is to do your best to attend a divorce settlement conference — even if it is involuntary. Go in with an open mind and be willing to compromise. By reaching a settlement through a divorce settlement conference you might find that you have saved time, money, and stress. 

Benefits of a Divorce Settlement Conference

Here are some of the biggest benefits of a conference: 

  • Both parties can voice their concerns
  • Disputes can be resolved
  • Compromises can be met
  • Divorce lawyers can help keep the conversation focused and respectful
  • A successful settlement means all terms of the divorce are met
  • You may be able to avoid going to court

When a Divorce Settlement Conference Fails

Should you and your spouse be unable to come to an agreement on issues such as child support and custody, spousal support, and the division of assets, your conference may fail. When this happens, your case may go to court and both of you will forfeit all control over the outcome. It will be up to the judge to make a decision on who will get what, where the children will live, and how much financial support will be given. You can appeal the judge’s decision, but you will not have the last word. In community property states, all marital property will be divided 50/50 regardless of one another’s wishes. If this is not something you are ready for, it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer, like a divorce lawyer from Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, who can help guide you through a divorce settlement conference. 

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