In New Jersey, three settlement meetings are required before parties are permitted to go to trial: the Early Settlement Panel, Economic Mediation, and the Intensive Settlement Conference. The Intensive Settlement Conference (ISC) takes place after the Early Settlement Panel (ESP) and Economic Mediation have occurred. If after mediation the parties have not reached an agreement, an ISC date is set with the court. This gives the parties another chance to reach a settlement agreement and avoid going to trial. If all efforts have been exhausted and the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, the matter will proceed to trial.
Most divorce cases settle prior to trial, and avoiding litigation generally saves parties’ time and money. The goal of the Intensive Settlement Conference is to convene the parties and their attorneys in court and try to resolve any issues in dispute. Reaching an agreement during the ISC allows the parties to avoid the stress and uncertainties of a trial.
New Jersey courts encourage parties to settle their case at any stage of the divorce, even during trial. If they do, the parties’ attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, laying out all terms of the divorce.
The Intensive Settlement Conference is provided by the court and overseen by the judge assigned to the case. Both parties and their attorneys are present. ISCs can last anywhere from a few hours to the entire day, so judges typically ask everyone involved to devote their entire day to it. At some point during the ISC, the attorneys for both sides will meet with the judge to hear the judge’s initial impressions of the case. This can further clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ legal positions.
At the Early Settlement Panel, two family law attorneys meet with the parties and their attorneys to review the case. Like the ESP, the Intensive Settlement Conference also takes place at the courthouse, but the ISC involves the judge assigned to the case. Thus, the setting may feel more formal than that of prior settlement negotiations.
Also, by the time of the ISC, discovery is complete, and the parties are fully informed of the issues in dispute. If the parties can reach a compromise on all important matters, they can put the agreement on the record.
With the help of your attorney, it may be possible to resolve issues with your spouse amicably. It is important to consult an attorney who is familiar with the intensive settlement conference process.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Divorce Lawyer in New Jersey
To learn more about how you can avoid litigation in New Jersey, speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney at the Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC. Contact us online or call us at (732) 214-1103 today.