Pretrial & Status Conference Forms
How to Prepare for Pretrial in Divorce
After filing for divorce, a pretrial conference will be set before you and your spouse officially appear in court. In most types of court cases, the pre trial meeting is more of a status conference. It gives both sides a chance to organize their cases before the actual court date. However, a divorce pretrial is a little different because this is the time when you and your spouse can hammer out a settlement in a potentially amicable fashion. In fact, most divorce cases are never argued before a judge, since all of the issues have already been settled in the pretrial hearing, and a signed pretrial order is strong enough to stand up to any other legal scrutiny.
When both you and your spouse are prepared for the pre trial conference and ready to settle on the relevant issues, it can save you money, hasten divorce proceedings, and reduce stress. Even if it seems unlikely that your spouse will cooperate at the meeting, attitudes often change in the presence of a mediator. If, for some reason, you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the conference gives you a chance to write a pretrial memorandum. This document outlines all of the issues in the divorce and provides a list of witnesses for the judge to help the case proceed smoothly.
To make the divorce pretrial hearing as efficient as possible, it is necessary to prepare accordingly. Following are a few of the most important preparations that should be made.
Identify and Prioritize the Issues
Every issue should be identified before the pre trial meeting begins. Each issue should be put in writing followed by your desired outcome and the desired outcome of your spouse. Even if you have already settled on an outcome desirable to both of you, it should be included in the list. Once the list is complete, the issues should be prioritized by how important they are to you.
Know the Law
It will help to understand how the law affects each issue on your list. It does not make any sense to list a desirable outcome if it is impossible to achieve at the hearing. In addition, the law may mandate an outcome, which means that the issue does not have to be argued in a memorandum. Understanding the law will also help you understand your rights in a divorce and can provide guidelines on a reasonable settlement.
Keep an Open Mind
While you want to be confident and determined in achieving your goals in the pretrial, you should recognize that you may not have considered every detail. Keep an open mind as you prepare for the pretrial conference and as it is underway. Just because the law does not mandate or establish guidelines for an issue, it does not mean that the issue cannot be mutually agreed upon, and it can be used as a bargaining chip in achieving a desirable outcome on an issue that is more important to you.
Consider the Costs
Before your case goes before the judge, consider the cost of taking your divorce to trial. This often provides enough incentive to help you and your spouse push through a settlement to save money. Is it really worth paying thousands of dollars in attorney fees and court costs to go to trial over minor issues?