If you are in the midst of a divorce, or have recently filed a petition for dissolution, chances are that you will be required to take part in a settlement conference. For those unfamiliar with this type of meeting, it is similar to mediation, in that it is an opportunity for the parties to sit down and see if any of them can be resolved.
Family courts strongly support these opportunities given the high cost of protracted litigation, and because it gives warring couples a chance to preserve relationships that they will need in the future.
But as the old adage goes, “preparedness breeds success.” This post will provide some helpful tips as you prepare for your settlement conference.
Know what your attorney can and can’t do – In a settlement conference, your lawyer is not necessarily supposed to be the staunch advocate you hired to rip your ex. Instead, your attorney will be more of an advisor that will provide information to guide your thoughts.
Leave your emotions at the door – At its core, a divorce is a business transaction where marital assets are equitably divided. Like most business transactions, good ones are made dispassionately. While this may be easier said than done, it is beneficial to leave your emotions out of the settlement conference. After all, this is not the time to settle a score or fight about what you want.
Think critically about your potential litigation costs – You may not realize the impact of having a clear winner and a clear loser in litigation until you lose. You may be completely demoralized after spending so much money and being disappointed at the end. So thinking critically about opportunity costs is essential before entering a settlement conference.
If you have additional questions about settlement conferences, an experienced family law attorney can help.