9.8 Attend a Family Settlement Conference (FSC)

If you are ordered or directed to, you must attend a Family Settlement Conference (previously known as a Family Case Conference). The purpose of an FSC is to have a judge help the parties try to resolve any issues in dispute by agreement.

A FSC is an informal, confidential meeting between you, your former spouse, and a judge. At an FSCC, the judge will try and help you resolve your issues or set dates and deadlines for the remaining steps in the court proceeding. The judge tries to help you work out the issues in a non-confrontational way. If both you and your former spouse agree on an issue, the judge can prepare an order for you. FSCCs are very helpful and often result in settlement. The judge will want to know what you agree on and what you don't agree on. The judge can help get an agreement between you. You must attend the conference if you get an order to attend one. If you can’t agree, the judge won’t make a decision on the issues, but can make procedural orders such as financial disclosures. At the FSC, the judge or master can:

  • act as a mediator
  • make an order that may help the parties resolve any issues by agreement or help parties be better prepared for a trial or hearing
  • send you to mediation, counselling, or to meet with a child support officer
  • make an order that you both agree to (e.g. you agree to a certain monthly amount of child support)
  • give a non-binding opinion about the likely outcome of a trial (this is the judge's opinion only, that can't be legally enforced)
  • reserve a trial date and a pre-trial conference date

What to Expect

  • FSCs tend to be pretty informal. You will be sitting around a table with the judge, your former spouse, and your lawyers if either of you have them
  • For anyone else to attend, you would need the permission of the judge
  • FSCs are confidential, so nothing said there can be used in court
  • If a settlement is reached, the judge will make a consent order, at the end of the FSC
  • The judge may send you to the Judicial Case Manager to set trial dates

Strategy for a FSC:

  • Be prepared to tell the judge what orders you want and why
  • Use the FSC to get additional information. (E.g. have the judge order the disclosure of your former spouse’s finances if they haven’t given them to you)
  • Find out what the judge thinks would happen at trial, if you can
  • Have a good understanding on what order you are seeking, and what are you willing to accept if you don’t get it all