Conciliation conference (CMF)
Where a family law matter has not been resolved via cooperation (see Cooperation) and without the involvement of the court, conciliation conference (the Family Court’s second event) is generally the best opportunity the parties will get to resolve their matter relatively efficiently and cost-effectively.
In order to improve the chances of a conciliation conference being successful, it helps to understand those factors that most frequently result in failure of such conferences.
The most common cause of failure for conciliation conferences is lack of preparation. For example, at the beginning of a conference, the registrar asks one party what result they think might be appropriate and that party says that they have been advised that about sixty percent might be reasonable but that they have not been able to work out what one hundred percent is because they are not sure how much super the other party has or what the business is worth. This means that the party cannot tell the difference between a good and a bad deal and that the chances of the registrar being able to help them achieve a satisfactory result are dramatically reduced.
This problem can be addressed by preparing properly for the case assessment conference (the Family Court’s first event) and obtaining directions at that conference which identify potential sticking-points and resolve them before the conciliation conference (see Case assessment conference).
The second most common cause of conciliation conference failure relates to relevance. A conciliation conference listing is generally for one and a half or for two hours. If one or both parties use that time to talk about less relevant issues (including venting or criticising), the opportunity to resolve issues can be lost. This problem can be addressed by thinking about relevant issues before the conference and by preparing properly.
Registrars only make decisions about directions for future progress at conciliation conferences. They do not make decisions about property or parenting issues. Resolution of issues can only occur at a conciliation conference if both parties agree.