What is a Family Settlement Conference?

If you think you might be able to talk things out and come to a resolution, then you might consider a Family Settlement Conference. 

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It is possible that at a Family Management Conference, a judge will order that the parties attend a Family Settlement Conference.

A Family Settlement Conference is a mediation type of meeting with a judge. It gives an opportunity for people to try to work out their differences without going to a trial or hearing. If issues can be resolved without a trial, it saves people money, time and stress.

Usually both parties will have to agree to go to a Family Settlement Conference because at a Family Settlement Conference, the judge can only make orders if the parties agree to them or if they are procedural such as setting new dates or ordering disclosure.

If the parties cannot resolve the issues at the Family Settlement Conference, the next step might be attending a Trial Management Conference to arrange for a trial.

If you think a Family Settlement Conference might be helpful, you can request that the judge set one. Both parties would likely need to agree to go because if one person does not want to try negotiating, the Family Settlement Conference will likely be unsuccessful, and it may waste valuable court time and delay setting a hearing.

You should always speak to a lawyer for legal advice before making decisions about your case. If you qualify, you can contact duty counsel for assistance with your legal questions or you may qualify for representation through Legal Aid. The Legal Aid BC website has a list of Family Duty Counsel locations and contact information.

You can contact the Lawyer Referral Service for a free consultation with a lawyer. You can call 1-800-663-1919 or visit the Access Pro Bono website.

If you are looking for an alternative to hiring a lawyer on a full retainer that often requires a large retainer payment upfront, you can try the BC Family Unbundling Roster. You can read more about Unbundled legal services in my blog post.

If you would like to discuss your upcoming Family Settlement Conference with a lawyer, contact Step By Step Law for a consultation. We offer unbundled legal services to help you prepare and/or to appear with you at a Family Settlement Conference.

This post is for informational purposes only. If you require legal advice, please contact a lawyer

Lawyer Jamie Fitzel facing camera and smiling

Written by Jamie Fitzel, family lawyer at Step By Step Law.

Last updated/reviewed on November 23, 2022.


Ms. Fitzel has experience attending family conferences in various courthouses across British Columbia. She welcomes you for a consultation.