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What is a Settlement Conference and What Should I Expect?

The uncertainty and nerves that surround the idea of attending trial often encourages people to settle their case outside of court. This can be done in the form of a settlement conference. In some states, these conferences are a necessary measure before attending court. Colorado is one of these states. Despite the type of petition being filed, divorcing parties must attend a settlement conference if they reside in Colorado. 

Our attorneys at Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton are skilled negotiators. Our familiarity with settlement conferences helps ensure this process is as smooth as possible.

Below, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions regarding settlement conferences in the state of Colorado.

A settlement conference is meant to settle the case beforehand so as not to take it all the way to court. Often, taking a case to court can be lengthy, nerve-racking, and expensive. These conferences are a less formal way to reach an agreement between parties before a trial. When it comes to matters of divorce, discussing details in an open courtroom can be unfavorable. Settlement conferences offer a more intimate alternative.

The case will be assigned to a judge, who will then preside over the conference. This judge would not be the one who’d be in charge of your trial. The settlement conference will most likely be held in a conference room or the judge’s chambers. In attendance will be the judge or magistrate, you and your spouse, and both of your attorneys. 

In the settlement conference, your assigned judge will discuss several things with you. They will infer what they believe the outcome will be if you take your case to trial. He or she will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The main goal of the judge, however, is to help you reach an agreement before the need for trial.

Mediation and settlement conferences are alike in some ways, but they aren’t one in the same. They’re similar in that they both require a third party to be a neutral presence in offering settlement options. 

The two are different in that mediation generally takes more time than does a settlement conference. Settlement conferences also have fewer available roles for participation of the parties.

There are many benefits to resolving a case at a settlement conference as opposed to at trial. The most obvious of these is that it can save quite a bit of money. 

If disputes can be settled at the conference, it can also save you a lot of time. Trials can be lengthy and tend to drag out. A settlement conference can be handled in a much more efficient manner.

Settlement conferences can also result in significantly less stress. The uncertainty and anxiety that often revolves around a trial can cause a significant amount of tension on your mind and body. Resolving things in a settlement conference is one of the best ways to avoid this unnecessary stress.

Even in the case that you don’t come to a resolution, a settlement conference is a good way to prepare each side for trial. It may also simplify the issues in the case so that when taken to court, there is less that needs to get covered.

It may be soon after the case is filed that a settlement is reached. As long as the facts are clear and both parties are relatively cooperative, a settlement conference can take as little as a few hours. The amount of time spent in a settlement conference ultimately depends on how prepared and cooperative the two sides are.

To ensure the conference takes as little time as possible, initial demands should have already been written and exchanged. Your attorney will be able to help you with these demands.

In Colorado, it is required that parties attend a settlement conference before trial. It is not required that the issues be resolved then and there, though. Sometimes you simply cannot reach an agreement at a settlement conference. 

If you do not reach a settlement, the case will be taken to trial. However, anything that was used or said at the conference cannot be repeated at trial. The other party can’t use any of the information shared at the settlement conference in court. What happens at the conference is completely confidential and cannot be put on record.

Settlement Conference Help in Denver

Whether you’re attending a settlement conference or taking your case to the courtroom, you need an experienced attorney at your side. At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, we have over 60 years of experience in family law matters like these. If you have any other questions regarding settlement conferences in the state of Colorado, contact us today. Call us at 303-951-4506 to schedule your appointment.