You may have heard of a settlement conference before, or it may be an entirely new term. A settlement conference is a time where everybody gets together and attempts to resolve the case. Now, it’s a little bit different than mediation, which we’ve talked about in some other discussions. Mediation is where for example, let’s say you go and you have a court-appointed or an agreed-upon mediator whose job it is to facilitate an agreement. Whereas, a settlement conference is a conference in which you have the parties get together along with their lawyers if they have lawyers. You may be in a room or you may be in separate rooms in terms of the people, the parties, who are involved in the case. Then you attempt to facilitate some sort of agreement. Often it’s in this format because of the tension. The people involved might be in separate rooms and the attorney’s talk, but that’s really what a settlement conference is. Sometimes a settlement conference will be ordered to happen by the court. However, sometimes it will be the people who decide that they want to get together and try to resolve the case.
Now, one thing to always keep in mind is that if there’s any kind of settlement conference that happens, at least in West Virginia, this includes discussions between the attorneys, letters that go back and forth, anything like that, there would be nothing that happens within that unless it’s agreed upon it’s supposed to come up in court. The reason behind that is because we want to try to encourage people to try to reach an agreement. So, if people aren’t being open and honest, they’re less likely to agree.
So what you do is you have this settlement conference. In many instances, it will be conducted at the courthouse. I have seen some family court judges that will order the parties to appear in the courthouse. They come to the courthouse and it might be shortly before the final or the temporary hearing, and the court will order that the people try to get together and resolve the case. I find that’s very helpful. It’s helpful to have a time where everybody can get together and at least try to hash out what the issues are.
Another positive thing that comes from settlement conferences is sometimes you can at least narrow the issues. We recently did another video on whether you can reach partial agreements, and this is something that often happens at a settlement conference. People can reach some sort of partial agreement.
So that consists of today’s topic on settlement conferences. If you have any questions at all, feel free to give me a call at (304) 720 4412. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a good day!