The Program's Conciliators are experienced litigators, with expertise in both civil litigation and family law, who have volunteered their services to help resolve motions and other preliminary disputes without charge to the parties in the case. The Conciliation Program is entirely voluntary and aims to speed up the disposition of cases and reduce the cost of litigation by helping to resolve the types of procedural motions and interim matrimonial disputes which tend to burden the system and which frequently frustrate the judicial system's goal of providing a swift and fair determination of the parties' rights.
Examples of the types of disputes which the Conciliation Program can resolve include
Motions and Petitions:
In all civil discovery disputes;
For visitation and emergency visitation orders;
To modify scheduling orders (except continuances);
In other matters at the discretion of the court.
When Conciliation is requested, trained Conciliators meet with the interested parties, listen carefully to each party's position and attempt to effect a resolution of the dispute by helping the parties develop realistic and satisfactory ways for the dispute to be resolved without further intervention by the Court. All proceedings are informal and confidential. The Conciliator's recommendations or suggestions are not binding upon the parties and are not disclosed to the Court. Conciliation is available to all litigants before the Fairfax County Circuit Court and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court whether or not the parties have counsel of their own.
While the Conciliators do not give legal advice to either side of a dispute, and are neutral and impartial, they will endeavor to do whatever is required to assist all parties to understand the real nature of the dispute. Once the dispute is clearly defined, the Conciliator should be able, in most cases, to help the parties and their counsel develop ways in which the legitimate goals of each party can be achieved without the expense and uncertainty of further litigation. There is no limit on the number of times conciliation services may be used during any law or equity action. Conciliation services will be available and will be provided as often and as long as the parties desire them. Conciliators are available to meet with the parties to conduct these conciliation sessions in person or will conduct the sessions by phone and by fax, for the convenience of all concerned. Sessions can be held in the parties' offices, the Courthouse or in any mutually agreeable neutral location.
There are three ways to obtain a Conciliator for your dispute:
- Simply ask for one when you file your motion or opposition.
If you believe that a motion would benefit from Conciliation, just fill out a Conciliation Request Form and give it to the Clerk when you file your motion or opposition. Conciliation Request Forms are available from the Court Clerk's Office. A Conciliator will then contact the interested parties and offer to assist in resolving the dispute. Make sure the Request Form is filled out to include your name, both phone and fax numbers, together with those of the opposing parties or their counsel.
- Send a request by fax or email
When the parties to a motions dispute are in agreement about the need for conciliation, simply fax Request for Concliation form to the Fax Hotline, 703-273-1274, or e-mail the form to firstname.lastname@example.org. A Conciliator Coordinator will contact you as soon as possible to arrange for conciliation, which can be conducted either by phone or in person.
- Show up on motions day ready to conciliate
If earlier conciliation is not possible, all you need do to obtain conciliation is show up for Motions Day ready to conciliate. Qualified Conciliators attend each Motions Day session and are readily available in the Courthouse to assist you with your case. The names and locations of Conciliators are announced at the beginning of each Judge's docket call.
Note: Conciliation services are provided to all parties free of charge. Conciliators will neither ask for nor accept compensation for their services. Conciliation is provided solely as a public service by the Fairfax Bar Association to parties and their counsel litigating in Fairfax County.