The Pre-Trial Conference hearing is the window to the light at the end of the tunnel. The Pre-Trial Conference can be used as the date to finalize settlement and have the Judge enter a final Judgment on your case. In the event that you do not reach a final settlement at the time of the Pre-Trial Conference, you at least leave the hearing with an idea of the Judge’s thoughts on your case, and a trial date.
After a divorce complaint is filed with the court, a trial cannot be scheduled until you have had a Pre-Trial Conference hearing before the Judge. Pre-Trial Conferences are not optional and must take place in order to keep your case moving forward.
Prior to the Pre-Trial Conference hearing, we must do the following:
- The spouses and their counsel must attend an in-person meeting (often referred to as a “four way meeting”) to discuss what the issues in the case and what if any issues can be resolved by agreement between the spouses. If there is a restraining order between the spouses, this requirement may be waived.
- A Pre-Trial Memorandum must be prepared by each of of the spouse’s Attorneys. If a spouse is appearing pro se and does not have an Attorney they are not excused from having to prepare and submit a Pre-Trial Memorandum to the court. This memorandum describes: the undisputed facts in the case; disputed facts in the case; a procedural history of the case; the contested issues in the case; the status of discovery; the length of time you are requesting for trial; the witnesses you plan on calling; and the evidence you plan on submitting to the Judge.
- A current financial statement has to be submitted along with the Pre-Trial Memorandum if any of the issues before the Judge have to do with a financial matter.
The underlying goal of the Pre-Trial hearing is to resolve the case without having to go to trial. If direct negotiations between the spouses and their attorneys encounter an obstacle, the judge will eliminate the obstacle at the Pre-Trial Conference.