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Settlement Conferences - Civil & Family Courts

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This topic deals with Judge led Settlement Conferences in our various Courts.  We give you all the law, the procedures and some helpful tips.


A Settlement Conference is different from formal mediation or arbitration which have more formal rules, are expensive and often take far more time.  We have specialist topics on those kinds of mediations or arbitrations under :




Mediating a civil dispute 


Mediation - Family Court 


But a Settlement Conference led by a Judge in the Family Court, High Court or District Court can be a very worthwhile experience because it allows the parties to a dispute to have an initial concentrated effort by a Judge to sort out the central issues and explore the very real possibility of a settlement.


There are no special formalities.  In the Family Court, the Judge will already have all of the relevant affidavits and in the Civil Courts (the High Court and District Court), the Judge will have at least have the Statement of Claim and Statement of Defence. 

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Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
"Just what I wanted. A good gutsy Judge and a change of policy a few years ago. About bloody time. Why should peple get away costs free by bringing such silly cases without feeling the pinch of costs? I used this stuff. I only got $400 but I made my point. Thanks.

Trevor - Rotorua - May 2007"

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
". . . . bloody helpful for me to get through the thicket of Rules and procedures . . . Frankie - Tauranga - February 2007"
"I just want to agree . . . JCH - Auckland"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
"Never knew what this meant. Now I do. Needs to be read with your other civil topics on suing people etc. Pete A - Whakatane - May 2007"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
"Need some advise as to division of relationship property. Been married 4.5years. No children. Married in Florida and then he moved us to NZ. We then bought two properties which I have always maintained household wise and financially since I always earned a far more significant amount of money he did. Do I have to split 50/50 or is it possible to make a case for more to my favour? Thanks Paulette

Netlaw replies - We assume the properties are in NZ. If they are situated overseas then our Courts cannot determine on them.

Assuming that they are here in NZ then the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 applies. After three years of marriage they are divided equally.

However, there is a possible claim, although it is not easy. Section 13 of the Act establishes the 50/50 split . . . but then says that if "there are extraordinary circumstances that would render equal sharing repugnant to justice" then the Court can, in its discretion, go outside equal sharing. But it is difficult to establish. A disparity of financial contribution is not enough. It must really be a combination of factors within the marriage. But it is worth further detailed analysis.

Also, section 14 applies to marriages of short duration, ie - under three years although the Court can declare a longer marriage to be one of short duration in certain circumstances. All cases are different but if he had an affair or string of affairs or lived apart for significant periods of time then you just might get the marriage declared to be one of short duration. The split can then be less than 50/50 "where the contribution of 1 spouse to the marriage has clearly been disproportionately greater than the contribution of the other spouse".

Hope this helps . . . . Netlaw


"Netlaw, a little advice needed thanks. I was employed overseas for thirty odd years before returning to NZ. About twenty years ago I started contributing to a super scheme. I re-married some 6 years ago, so 14 years before new wife. I ended up being given a pension due to medical grounds, hurt on duty. Now that I receive a pension every fortnight, how is this factored into relationship property?
Netlaw replies: Specific advice is required but the super policy IS relationship property, including the amount saved before the marriage. A specialised accountant called an actuary values the policy based on a "looking into the future" approach which also discounts for variables."

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
"Great. See the other topics on Statement of Claim -Some Examples - Graeme - Tauranga"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Costs Awards in the Family Court
"A fabulous topic. Why are there no other sites which actually give examples. The lay person does not get to see Claims like this set out so clearly. I think there is a bit of a myth about te law which is buit up by lawyers. Please get as many examples as you can on to this topic please Netlaw . . . Graeme - Tauranga - May 2007"
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