Like marriage, divorce is a very personal matter for couples. While some do not mind having their divorce as part of public records, others would like to keep the details of their separation private and confidential. Courts acknowledge this concern and allow divorce parties to explore settlement conferences as an option, though it could, at times, be mandatory.
The basics of a settlement conference
Parties who go through a settlement conference skip the typical trial process. Instead, they will attend a private discussion, usually in the judge’s chambers or a conference room and settle divorce matters privately. The judge will preside over the discussions while allowing each party’s attorneys to be present.
How matters are resolved
In the initial part of the settlement, parties will provide the judge with background information about their case. Afterward, the parties’ attorneys will meet the judge to present their positions. The judge will then make offers and recommendations to the parties until they reach an agreement.
What if the parties do not agree after the conference? Then, they have to proceed to trial.
Is a settlement conference the same as mediation?
Though they have similarities, settlement conferences and mediation are two different divorce processes. A judge assigned by the court oversees a settlement conference, while a neutral third party, accredited as a mediator and personally chosen by the parties, conducts the mediation.
Prioritize your rights
When dealing with divorce, you must ensure that you choose the option that would best protect your rights, including your right to privacy. Review the facts of your situation and carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages. In case of uncertainty, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you find clarity.