Some Designated Family Judge areas are piloting ‘settlement conferences’. In a settlement conference, a family judge adopts an inquisitorial approach in order to encourage cooperation between parties with a view to helping them identify solutions and reaching an agreement that is in their children’s best interests.
Settlement conferences take place with the consent of all the parties. The judge hearing a settlement conference will be different to that of the judge that may hear the final hearing. They will be specially trained in facilitating settlement conferences.
The judge will not impose any duress or pressure on any parties. Settlement implies that all parties will be in agreement to fully resolve some or all issues.