Q: My attorney tells me we have a settlement conference coming up in my divorce case. We already went to mediation, but were not successful in settling the case. What is the settlement conference all about?

A: The settlement conference is generally your last formal opportunity to settle your case. At the settlement conference, the parties and their attorneys meet at the courthouse to discuss the case and fill the judge in on the pertinent issues to be tried. Often, the judge will call the attorneys into chambers and discuss the case to see if the judge can assist in settling the matters at issue. If the case cannot be settled, the court will often set deadlines for submission of trial briefs, exhibits, and witness lists if that has not already been done. The court will try to define the issues and set a trial date. Many cases settle at the settlement conference, as it is the time when the parties realize that if they are not going to resolve their case out of court, they will incur substantial additional attorney fees. While the settlement conference does present an opportunity to settle your case, it is preferable to resolve all the issues at mediation if possible, as a settlement conference sometimes feels rushed, especially in those counties where the judges schedule several of them at the same time.

For more information on the Michigan divorce process, click here.