Very few divorce cases get litigated despite what you see on television shows and celebrity gossip. In Connecticut, over 95% of cases are resolved before trial. However, it’s more interesting to hear about the details of a nasty divorce battle than how a couple negotiated a settlement, so public perception is skewed. The odds are that your divorce case won’t go to trial, and that’s usually the best result. Settling out of court is generally faster and less expensive than litigation. Many parties also feel more satisfied with an outcome they negotiated rather than one imposed on them by a judge. If you are divorcing, you should strongly consider taking advantage of options that the court system provides to help you avoid trial.
How Does Connecticut Provide Assistance to Parties in Settling Divorce Cases?
The Connecticut judicial system actively encourages parties to settle by offering three options to help resolve divorce cases before trial. The options are the Family Relations Office, Special Masters’, and Judicial Pretrial. These programs utilize independent third parties to hear the disputed issues and provide recommendations or opinions.
Importantly, these options are nonbinding, so the parties can reject any recommendations or decide to stop participating. Further, any discussions in the programs are privileged and are not admissible in court if the case goes to trial.
What Is the Family Relations Office?
The Family Relations Office is a group of trained professionals operating in the courts with experience resolving family law matters. They are typically used in cases involving parenting issues and can help parents address custody and parenting time concerns.
What Is the Special Masters Program?
The court assigns two independent attorneys experienced in divorce to serve as mediators in a divorce case. Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC attorneys often serve as special masters in the court system. The special masters meet with the parties and review their respective financial affidavits and settlement proposals. The two masters then jointly present their suggestions for resolving the disputes.
What Is a Judicial Pretrial?
The parties’ attorneys meet with a senior judge with matrimonial law experience who hears their dispute and reviews their financial affidavits and settlement proposals. The judge then states how he or she would decide the case and provides recommendations for settlement. A judge involved in a Judicial Pretrial proceeding is disqualified from hearing the case if the matter goes to trial.
How Can the Court Programs Benefit Your Divorce Case?
The Family Relations Office, Special Masters’ Program, and Judicial Pretrial allow the parties to get an unbiased opinion of their case, which can be invaluable. Parties often have a misperception about the strength of their case or the cost of taking it to trial, or they may not consider all the alternative solutions to their dispute. If an independent third party indicates that settlement may be the best option and suggests how to accomplish it, both parties may feel better about agreeing to settle.
Our lawyers provide skilled representation to clients at every stage of a case to help them achieve a positive outcome. Since the odds are that your divorce case won’t go to trial, it is important to work with attorneys with substantial experience advocating for clients out of court and litigating in court. Learn more about our firm or contact us for a consultation today.