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Surviving a Four Way Meeting

A meet and confer session which is basically when the parties and their lawyers meet in person. Some times these meetings are valuable to the case other times they are completely invaluable.

At the same time, clients are nervous about meeting the other parties along with their lawyers. Let’s face it: for a couple who is filing for divorce the last thing they want to go through is meet their spouse in a conference room across the table from them and talk about their personal issues. Here’s what you should do to prepare for such meetings:


Communicate with your lawyer before the meeting – A pre-four way meeting essential is to speak to your lawyer before the meeting. Its important that the lawyer hears your concerns first so the lawyer can provide clarification, protection or validation. It’s important for the lawyer to develop an agenda so the time is spent effectively. The lawyer needs to make sure client’s expectations are properly understood for instance does he or she want to take the lead or should I be speaking on their behalf? Sometimes clients also prefer to speak about a certain topic in “code words” so if it’s used the lawyer understands what the client is saying. So, if your lawyer doesn’t suggest a meet up before the meeting you should be proactive and suggest a meeting yourself.

Be effective – In the meeting make sure you have your agenda down. Say or do things that are effective and help you move forward. Being effective means advancing towards the main concern of the meeting keeping in mind your interests and principles. It always feels good to blame or criticize the other person but that one sarcastic comment can really hurt you in the long run. Always keep your focus on the bigger picture never on petty sarcastic comments.


Be Respectful – Remember that divorce is a very difficult transition for both of you whether it is emotional, financial or both. It is very unlikely that both of you are on the same page emotionally so its difficult to process information the same way for both of you. Sometimes you’ll need to slow down in order for the other person to understand and sometimes it’ll be the other way around. your spouse hasn’t been working on the case and has not worked on certain documents before a deadline, try not to rush things this will only create more problems for you. Your best option is to be respectful and give the other person time.


Listen – The worst thing to happen in a four way meeting is when both parties continue to argue non-stop. Lawyers have to intercede because neither one of them realized that they were both saying the same thing in different words. This meeting is an opportunity to sit together face to face without potential miscommunication. This opportunity can only be taken advantage of if both parties listen and pay attention.