In Ontario, the rules and procedures that relate to divorce and other family law disputes dictate that once the Discovery process has completed, you and your soon-to-be-Ex must participate in a Settlement Conference. Here are the important points to know:
What is a Settlement Conference?
As with any Mediation process that took place much earlier in the proceedings, the purpose of the Settlement Conference is to further explore any opportunities for settlement, to narrow the issues, and to get an impartial decision-maker’s input on the merits of the case, all before the actual trial takes place. It is also a chance to ensure that all relevant evidence has been disclosed, that any agreed facts or issues have been identified.
How Do I Prepare for It?
The Settlement Conference is arranged at a date that is mutually convenient for you, your Ex, and for a judge who has been assigned to preside over it. In advance of that date, each of you must prepare a “Conference Brief” and serve it on the other within certain stipulated deadlines.
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(Note that if you or your Ex intend to make any Offers to Settle to the other, these must be exchanged and considered prior to the date that the Settlement Conference takes place.)
What Happens at the Settlement Conference?
As before, the issues that remain to be settled between you will be explored, and the judge will assist in finding common ground and areas for compromise.
Where appropriate or necessary, the judge may also make certain orders that are geared to ensuring that you are both ready for trial – for example requiring certain information to be disclosed and setting timeframes. If settlement between you is not imminent or likely, then the judge will institute the necessary court processes to schedule the actual trial date.
Next article: The Divorce Trial.
Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario. Contact us to set up a free consultation.