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What is a Mandatory Settlement Conference?

A Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC) is a meeting set by the court between both parties and their attorneys if they have one. Also present is a mediator, a role usually played by a volunteer family law attorney who is experienced in settlement negotiations.

The MSC usually occurs several weeks prior to the trial date for all the remaining issues of a divorce to be heard via trial. Both parties are required to attend and to be ready to negotiate a settlement. This is the court’s last effort to encourage the parties to come to an agreement prior to trial, which helps to free up the court’s and counsel’s already over-booked calendar.

Prior to the MSC, the parties are required to submit to each other and the mediator a brief that outlines the remaining issues of the case and each party’s position on those issues. It’s a clear and succinct outline of the issues that the mediator can read ahead of time to understand where the parties are in negotiations. It also helps the mediator have an idea of what would be a fair settlement in each party’s eyes and under the law.

If the parties can come to an agreement on any or all of the issues, it is highly recommended that they put it in writing, or they read the agreement onto the court’s record. This is not required, but it reduces the chance that either party can later dispute what was agreed to and/or change their mind.

If you’d like assistance negotiating your divorce, or understanding the many hearings of family court, consult with an attorney at Cage & Miles, LLP today.