Conciliation is a confidential process designed to enable people to settle cases outside of the court litigation process which is public, expensive and time consuming. While the courts sometimes make referrals to conciliators, people would be well served to retain their own conciliator especially if a referral is not forthcoming from the court. All communications with the conciliator are confidential although a court assigned conciliator is required to advise the court of whether or not the case as settled and what the unresolved issues are. A privately retained conciliator does not report to the court.
If each party has an attorney then the attorneys attend the conciliation meetings with their clients. Typically the information that is helpful to be brought to conciliation is a copy of the pretrial memorandum which is a summary of the case, a copy of all financial statements, a list of the issues that are problematic settlement and a proposed divorce agreement. The proposed divorce agreement should be e-mailed to the conciliator in advance so that if an agreement is reached, the agreement can be modified to accommodate the terms of the settlement. Then the parties can sign the agreement right there to facilitate an immediate court date for entry of the Judgment. The settlement agreement should be shared between the attorneys in advance. In many ways, conciliation resembles mediation but it is a bit more directed than mediation. The mediation process is controlled largely by the litigants whereas conciliation has more participation and control by the conciliator.
If the parties do not have an attorney or only one party has an attorney, conciliation can still be used although sometimes it is more difficult to arrive at an agreement one or both parties are not represented by counsel.
A conciliator is an attorney who has completed requisite training in conformity with the rules. Attorney Ann C. LoDolce is a certified conciliator.