CANTON (CBS/AP) — A new pilot program that offers free services from retired judges to resolve mostly family-related cases is set to start on Nov. 1 in Canton, open to all 14 divisions of the state.

Patrick McDermott, register of probate for Norfolk Country, says this state-wide initiative will help advance any contested cases in the hopes that they can be resolved quickly.

“We’re hoping to see parties take advantage of this free settlement conference program that will be offered on the first of every month to help the timeliness of a case,” McDermott told WBZ-NewsRadio 1030. “Cases around the state can look to get the services of this program and apply for it.”

A majority of cases will include family-law related, relative to child-custody disputes and child-support issues, will disputes, and divorce cases.

Some people wait up to a year before their issue is heard by a judge. This program aims to lessen the time and financial burden of litigating a trial.

“We want to try to get those contested cases resolved so it gets off the judge’s docket,” McDermott said. “We think that people who are of like minds, who want to get their issues resolved in a timely fashion, come together to really get ready to work on a case.”

McDermott said many of the cases will already be close to settlement by the time they get to the conference program.

“We’re hoping to see one or two unresolved issues that need the focus of the parties, with a little guidance from the judge,” he said.

Hosted at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court, the judges will see parties for up to an hour on the first Friday of every month.

From the court’s perspective, this is a free-service, resulting in saving volumes of money in the long run, according to McDermott.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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