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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 09-03-2008, 11:34 AM
About_Time About_Time is offline
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Default Settlement Conference Question

So I got a call from my lawyer's office today asking for dates upon which they can book a settlement conference. They are not getting any response from the lawyer for the bio-father of my son, and very slow responses from my ex's legal aid lawyer. Their hope is that booking a settlement conference will get them of their butts to do something.

My concern however, is that I don't want to do another settlement conference at this stage. Each time we have one, it costs me over a grand in legal fees. My ex is on legal aid so the threat of a conference isn't exactly going to scare her into action. My fear is that setting the date may actually IMPEDE negotiations, because she'll just say "screw it, I'll wait until the conference and we'll deal with it there".

In my conversations with the ex, she seems more eager to get something settled because she needs money for school. It's not in her best interest to let this slide forever. My hope is that we can get most of the issues settled prior to any conference via negotiation, or else we are just going to have to be endlessly going to them forever. At the same time, we can't negotiate if they are dodging us.

I don't know - it's all very confusing. I'm not sure what the best strategy here is... opinions would be appreciated. The lawyer's office seemed adamant that this was the way to go, but it seems to me like we are provoking a fight with a glass jaw.
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:44 PM
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Its better for case management get get beyond Settlement Conference stage so that the matter can proceed to trial if necessary. Once a settlement conference has been held, leave of the court is mandatory to bring forth any relief by way of motion. Don't leave yourself in limbo, move the matter forward. If the other side is serious about reasonable settlement then a trial can be avoided.


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Old 09-05-2008, 10:52 AM
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Can the judge make orders with respect to CS, SS, custody, etc. at a Settlement Conference, or is it like the Case Conference where they simply advise and mediate?

Beyond the practical concerns re: my ability to pay my lawyer, my main concern is that if an order is made giving her spousal, then there is absoluetly no incentive for her to mediate. She'll drag the entire thing out through the courts from then on in. The only leverage I have right now is that she needs spousal pretty much immediately - if that's given to her by the judge then I'm powerless.
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Old 09-08-2008, 06:46 PM
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The judge is only likely to make procedural orders at a Settlement Conference. It would be unusual for a support order to be made there, but it could happen at a motion.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:28 AM
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Turned out to be a moot point in some ways, because she is apparently filing a motion to get spousal and child support decided ASAP... like in 10 days. I still haven't seen her financial disclosure or that of the bio dad, so I'm hoping the judge won't just order something in that short of a time frame and under those conditions.

She keeps talking the talk about negotation, but she isn't walking the walk. I think at this point it's fair to assume that she's just going to drag everything through the court.
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:21 AM
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We only today got some financial disclosure from the ex and we have next to nothing from the bio dad, but I'm being dragged back to court Friday for this motion anyhow. She wants FULL child support from both me AND the bio dad (double dipping on support for my son) plus over $700/mth in spousal support.

Would a judge even resolve this matter given the unecessarily short time frame to formulate a response and lack of full disclosure? My assumption is that we will ask for and be granted an adjournment, meaning more wasted legal fees for me.
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Old 09-16-2008, 08:49 PM
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Not sure what will happen at a motion, it's a bit of a roll of the dice, depends on the judge you get.

If a SS and/or a CS support order is made, it will be difficult to change later as a status quo will arise. You may want to counter offer a SS amount and time expiry that will give the judge something to hang his/her hat on, as opposed to just the other side's request. Consult your lawyer on amount and time horizon.
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:11 PM
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Just spoke to my lawyer on all this and it's grim news all around.

Although we doubt she'll get as much as she is asking for, I could still be on the hook for a sizable chunk of SS and it will likely be for a period of at least 3 years. The idea of continuing to pay her to sit on her butt and do nothing for the next 3 years of my life makes me sick to my stomach.

On the plus side, my lawyer thinks she can argue it down to the minimum in my range and she also is hopeful we can get a reduction in the amount of CS I'll be paying, which will in part help lighten the overall load. If she actually gets a job at some point or if I move back out on my own, I may be able to get a reduction as well, but I'll have to go through the courts to do so.

I'll probably have to relent to giving her decision-making powers with regards to the kids as well - at least temporarily until custody is determined. Of course, once SS starts rolling in and with the temp order in hand, the odds that she will grant me joint custody are as slim as the courts granting it to me.

So basically, the only way I'm going to come out of the motion hearing on Friday without being screwed is if she gets hit by a bus on the way in. Hooray for Family Law!
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by About_Time View Post
Just spoke to my lawyer on all this and it's grim news all around.

Although we doubt she'll get as much as she is asking for, I could still be on the hook for a sizable chunk of SS and it will likely be for a period of at least 3 years. The idea of continuing to pay her to sit on her butt and do nothing for the next 3 years of my life makes me sick to my stomach.

On the plus side, my lawyer thinks she can argue it down to the minimum in my range and she also is hopeful we can get a reduction in the amount of CS I'll be paying, which will in part help lighten the overall load. If she actually gets a job at some point or if I move back out on my own, I may be able to get a reduction as well, but I'll have to go through the courts to do so.

I'll probably have to relent to giving her decision-making powers with regards to the kids as well - at least temporarily until custody is determined. Of course, once SS starts rolling in and with the temp order in hand, the odds that she will grant me joint custody are as slim as the courts granting it to me.
When a spouse has primary residence for the children, it can affect the duration of the spousal support in a way you won't like, the argument being that the kids need their primary residence to be maintained via spousal support in addition to the child support.

You might be well advised to offer a little better than the minimum spousal support so that the judge sees you as being reasonable and therefore doesn't order to you to pay it for as long as the child support.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by About_Time View Post
Can the judge make orders with respect to CS, SS, custody, etc. at a Settlement Conference, or is it like the Case Conference where they simply advise and mediate?

Beyond the practical concerns re: my ability to pay my lawyer, my main concern is that if an order is made giving her spousal, then there is absoluetly no incentive for her to mediate. She'll drag the entire thing out through the courts from then on in. The only leverage I have right now is that she needs spousal pretty much immediately - if that's given to her by the judge then I'm powerless.
Judges can make orders at a Settlement Conference and sometimes do if orders are on consent of the parties or more or less procedural orders. Other orders can be made as well, but if they have a significant effect on the outcome, the Judge will generally make them on a without prejudice basis.

Keep in mind that a Justice that hears a Settlement Conference cannot hear the final adjudication of trial.
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