A settlement conference can be a powerful tool for the resolution of your case. It is a meeting held with you, your spouse, and your lawyers with the intention of negotiating the terms of your divorce. Settlement conferences are most effective when both parties and their attorneys see the potential for a negotiated resolution and have the necessary information to accomplish that goal.

Perhaps your attorney has sent a settlement proposal to your spouse’s attorney (or, maybe you’ve received a proposal from your spouse’s attorney). Maybe the attorneys have spoken via phone. You can reach a negotiated settlement through these types of communications, but delays are inherent with all the back and forth. Sitting down at a table, having a conversation about the issues, and brainstorming solutions in a conference setting can be the most efficient way to reach settlement.

Additionally, rather than waiting weeks for a response regarding a proposal, you can receive a response in a matter of minutes. A settlement conference also enables you to use your own words to explain the reasoning behind your requests. You are also able to provide information immediately to expedite the process.

Being well prepared for the settlement conference can help you make the most of the opportunity to resolve your case without the need to go to trial. Before your conference, you should:

  • Consult with your attorney to prepare an agenda that lists the issues you believe are resolved and the issues you believe are unresolved;
  • Provide your attorney with necessary information (e.g., current financial statements, debt amounts and, asset values);
  • Discuss topics of concern with your attorney so you can set realistic expectations for the outcome of negotiations; and
  • Set your intentions for the conference (e.g., “I will come with a positive attitude and open mind.” Or, “I will listen to my spouse’s position without interrupting.”)

Know that there will be a “give and take” during your conference. It is highly unlikely that either spouse will walk away getting everything he or she desires. You will have control over which issues you are willing to give on and which issues matter most to you. Be prepared to concede certain things. Reaching a fair negotiated settlement may be a better alternative than the costs and risks of trial.

If you believe a settlement conference would be beneficial to resolving your case, contact your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys. We will prepare you on the ins and outs of settlement and be able to advise you before, during, and after the conference.

Lindsay Belmont

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