In divorce and personal injury cases, settlement conferences are very common.The purpose of the conference is to find a solution to the dispute that will satisfy everyone.Settlement conferences can be mandatory or voluntary.Regardless of the type of settlement conference, you should think about what you want and the minimum amount you are willing to give up.Talk about the case with the lawyer.
Step 1: Decide what you want to do.
No one can force you to accept a settlement you don’t like.Before you go to the conference, you need to know your goals.The type of case will affect these.You will need to determine child custody, child support, and alimony in a divorce dispute.You have to figure out what you want.You have to decide how much money to give in a personal injury dispute.Evaluate your damages, including lost wages and the cost of medical care, when you consider how much compensation you want.As an injured person, you may want a lump sum or a series of payments as part of a structured settlement.You might want your legal costs covered.If you choose not to go to trial, lawyers may be less expensive.
Step 2: Take a look at the strength of your case.
You will probably have to go to court if settlement fails.Do you think you will win at court?You can be aggressive at the conference if that’s the case.If your case is weak, you should seek resolution during the conference.The law and facts will determine the strength of your case.You need to research the law to find it.If you are in a child custody dispute, you should check to see what factors the judge will consider.You can find these factors online.
Step 3: Go to your walkaway point.
The minimum you are willing to settle for is your walkaway point.You might only accept $50,000 for your injuries in a personal injury lawsuit.You walk away if the other side can’t meet your minimum.The strength of your lawsuit will affect your walkaway point.If you have a very weak case, you might be willing to accept a small amount of money.You might want to hold out for more when your evidence is strong.
Step 4: If necessary, consult with an attorney.
An attorney with years of experience is a great asset.They can help you decide if your goals are realistic.What will happen during the settlement conference can be understood by an attorney.Tell the attorney the background facts and ask how the judge will rule.You can find an attorney by contacting your local or state bar association.Ask the attorney how much they charge for a consultation.If you are low income, look for pro bono help.The Legal Services Corporation has a website where you can find legal aid.
Step 5: Who will run the conference?
A neutral third party will run the conference.A third party can be a lawyer or a judge.You should know if someone is running the conference.A mediators job is to get the two sides to listen to each other.Even if a judge runs the conference, they won’t make a decision.The person running the conference should give you a list of procedures.Do not read these if you don’t comply with all the rules.Settlement conferences can only be summarized in this article, but you must follow any specific rules given to you.
Step 6: Give a summary of the dispute.
It is possible that you need to describe the dispute to the mediator.You have to submit a brief to the other side in some courts.You can submit a letter.This exercise will help clarify the dispute in your own mind.Write down any previous negotiations.Did you talk to the other side about your disagreement?Have you reached an agreement on any issues?What are the last areas of disagreement?Pick out who you think is at fault.Explain why the other party is responsible if you were in a car accident.You can support your case by showing the damage to your property.This can include witness testimony.Discuss your ideal resolution.What do you want?
Step 7: You have to complete required forms.
Before your conference can take place, you may be given forms to fill out.Keep a copy of the forms for your records.You might have to file them with the court and send a copy to the other side.Detailed financial forms are required in a divorce or child custody case.Don’t wait until the last minute to complete these forms, they can request a lot of information.You should have received a copy of the other side’s paperwork.You can use this to plan for the conference.
Step 8: You should gather your evidence.
You might be asked to show the evidence in the case.Put your evidence in an order for the judge to look at it.You can take medical records, medical bills, and a copy of the police report if you file a personal injury lawsuit.Photos, affidavits, and communications with your insurance company should be included.You will have to provide copies to the other side, so make sure to pull everything together early and follow the judge’s instructions.
Step 9: It’s a good idea to seal or redact confidential information.
If you want sensitive personal information to remain confidential, you need to request that it be sealed.You can request the forms from the court.You can seal or redact the following: W-2 or other employment forms tax returns paystubs Social Security Numbers credit card statements bank and other financial statements
Step 10: If necessary, draft a settlement agreement.
When you go to conference, some courts will request that you have a settlement agreement already drafted.This will speed up the drafting of the final agreement.You can save a draft to your computer or flash drive.Don’t just take a paper copy.It will be simpler to revise a digital version.Sample settlement agreements can be found online.You could ask a lawyer for a sample copy.Settlement agreements can be different depending on the dispute.A personal injury settlement is different from a marital separation agreement.There is a sample relevant to your dispute.Even if your court doesn’t require you to bring a draft version, it’s still a good idea to look at one before going into the conferenceWhat issues are included in a settlement agreement?
Step 11: Tell everyone about the conference.
Inform the insurance claims adjuster about the conference if you have one working on your case.They need to be involved.The lawyer must have complete authority to settle the case on the client’s behalf if they represent a party.A person who can settle the matter for the business is needed for corporations or other businesses.If a necessary party can’t attend in person, check if they can attend by phone.Some courts may allow this.
Step 12: Arrive early.
Settlement conferences can be held in a lawyer’s office or at the courthouse.If you have never been to the location before, you should have enough time to find parking.You could also have to go through security.Arrive at least 15 minutes early.Before going to the settlement conference, turn off your cell phones and other electronic devices.You do not want to be interrupted.Call ahead if you can’t make the conference.It’s possible to make a new date and time.
Step 13: Speak honestly.
Settlement conferences begin with each side making a presentation.Any statement you make in a settlement conference can’t be used against you in court.If you offer to pay $50,000 for someone’s injuries, they can’t use it to show that you accept responsibility for their injuries.You might not be able to go ahead with the settlement conference if you don’t agree to confidentiality rules.
Step 14: Listen closely.
If the other side thinks you don’t care what they say, you cannot resolve the dispute.You should listen as they talk.Don’t forget to sit with an open body style.This means looking at the other person.Don’t tilt your body away from your arms or legs.Make eye contact.It shows you are listening when the other person talks honestly.Occasionally, you can show that you are hearing what they are saying.Explain what the other person has said.This is important when you disagree.You can say, “I understand you want full custody because I’m moving 50 miles away, but I still think we should split custody 50%.”I can drive Jimmy and Sarah to school in the morning, so living apart won’t be a problem.
Step 15: The mediation has a caucus with it.
The other party might be asked to go into separate rooms by the mediation.The mediator will shuttle between rooms.If you reach an impasse, the mediation might useaucusing.Without the other side hearing what you say, caucusing allows you to speak honestly.The mediation can give an honest assessment of how the conference is going.
Step 16: Take your notes.
If you don’t reach a settlement, attending the conference is helpful.If you go to trial, the other side will likely preview their arguments.You can review them later if you take notes.In a child custody dispute, the other side might tip you off that they will argue that you are not a good parent.Listen to the mediation or judge.They could give their opinion of the case.Since they are approaching the dispute neutrally, you should take what they say seriously.
Step 17: As many issues as you can resolve.
You may not be able to agree on everything.Less a judge must decide at trial if you can agree on something.In a divorce dispute, you might agree on some things but not others.If you think you have a strong case, you might want to give up a little just to avoid court.Settlement agreements can be signed for any issues you resolve.You can partially settle, and the judge likes to see this effort on your part as well.The draft agreement should be shown to the lawyer.You can schedule another conference.One conference may not be enough to resolve all issues.You should schedule another session if you think you are making progress.