The last formal opportunity in a Family Law Court to resolve financial disputes prior to a trial usually occurs at a conciliation conference
Family Law Courts make every effort to persuade parties to resolve their differences before asking the judge to make a property settlement. A conciliation conference is part of the dispute resolution process. This article will tell you what you need to know about conciliation conferences.
Before asking a Family Law Court to make a property settlement, parties are expected to make a sincere effort to resolve their differences. Family Law Courts require you to participate in a dispute resolution process before you apply to the court for a financial order. Dispute resolution generally involves a trained professional who acts a mediator to help you resolve your differences. You can only apply for a financial order if the dispute resolution process fails.
The process of seeking a negotiated resolution of your differences does not end when you apply for a financial order. The court will generally schedule a case assessment conference at which a Family Court Registrar will preside. During the first part of the conference, the registrar will clarify the issues so that the judge will understand the dispute that needs to be decided. The registrar will encourage the parties to resolve those issues during the case assessment conference.
If the parties cannot resolve their issues but it appears that a resolution might be possible, the registrar will often schedule a conciliation conference. This is generally the last formal opportunity to arrive at a negotiated settlement before you face a judge. At the conciliation conference, a registrar will act as a mediator, usually speaking to each of you separately to help you settle your disputed issues. The registrar can guide you by giving you an informed opinion as to what the judge might do if your case goes to trial.
At the case assessment conference, the registrar will tell you what you must do prior to the conciliation conference. If you did not exchange all required financial documents before the case assessment conference, the registrar will instruct you to complete that process. The registrar might also request additional financial information to make your disclosures complete.
The registrar will also ask you to complete a financial questionnaire and a balance sheet. Those must be exchanged and provided to the court before the conciliation conference. You can ask a lawyer to help you prepare those documents correctly.