Getting divorced in California may not involve many steps, but it can get very complicated. One of the few steps in finalizing a divorce in the Golden State is called a Mandatory Settlement Conference or MSC. As the name implies, this step is not optional. The law requires both spouses and their respective Central Valley divorce attorneys to attend the Mandatory Settlement Conference. While some judges may conduct the MSC in their chambers (commonly known as a “chamber meeting”), other judges appoint someone else to hold the meeting.
What Is the Purpose of the MSC?
The main goal of the Mandatory Settlement Conference is to resolve any issues before the court finalizes the divorce proceeding. The MSC is basically one last chance to avoid having to go to trial. Avoiding the stresses of a divorce trial is generally in everyone’s best interests. As such, if an MSC can be done fairly to settle matters, it can be very useful and can make a divorce proceed more smoothly for all parties involved, especially children.
How To Prepare for the MSC
In order for a Mandatory Settlement Conference to be successful, the parties and their Central Valley divorce attorneys must spend time preparing all necessary paper work, planning on the best steps to take, and making necessary strategic decisions before the meeting.
The attorneys must “meet and confer” no later than five court days before the MSC. This can be done either in person or over the phone. This meeting allows both attorneys to identify and resolve the existing points of contention before the MSC.
The attorneys must also prepare a settlement conference brief in advance of the MSC. The brief must list the issues that needed to be decided, a proposal for resolving the issues, and the reason the proposal is being made. The brief must also include the outcome of the meet and confer meeting. The brief must be served on the opposing divorce attorney by 4 p.m. three court days before the conference. It can be served earlier, but not later.
The Mandatory Settlement Conference
When the big day comes, both parties and their attorneys will meet with the settlement judge to come to a resolution. The settlement judge does not have the authority to make any rulings. Instead, his or her job is to simply facilitate the MSC to come to a resolution. If all the issues are resolved, an agreement can be drafted at the MSC for both parties to sign. If not, the next step is to proceed to trial.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or planning to file for divorce, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.