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Pre-Trial Conference  |  Trial  |  Judgment

Pre-Trial Conference
If a case is contested and the parties cannot agree to the settlement of disputes, the issues will first be presented to a Judge at a pre-trial conference. A mandatory four-way conference must take place ahead of the pre-trial conference where issues may be discussed and resolved. If issues still remain, they are then presented to a Judge. The pre-trial Judge cannot order a settlement but can and usually does make suggestions to the attorneys to settle the case.

If, after the pre-trial Judge has made his/her suggestions and the parties still cannot settle their dispute, a trial date is set.

The trial of a divorce matter is costly and time-consuming in its preparation and actual court time. Even if the actual trial is only a few hours, it is not uncommon for the parties to pay for an entire day, since the parties arrive at court early in the morning. It is not unusual for a trial to take two or three days, and if there are issues of valuation of businesses or child custody, a trial may take a week or more.

A divorce trial is always held before a Judge, not a jury. A stenographer must be retained to record the proceedings, and this cost is generally agreed upon between the parties to be equally shared.

Before the attorney sets foot in the courtroom on the day of trial, he/she has expended numerous hours in the preparation of the case. Witnesses need to be interviewed, exhibits received and pre-marked, documents subpoenaed and reviewed, depositions reviewed and marked. Of particular importance is the preparation of the Trial Brief. The Trial Brief generally incorporates much of the same material contained in the Pre-Trial Memorandum, but is more detailed as to the recitation of law and the application of law to the facts of the case. The attorneys must also prepare proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law that they wish the Judge to make at the conclusion of the trial.

The attorneys must follow strict rules of admissibility in order to present the Judge with evidence they believe would assist the court in making a determination favorable to their client. Witnesses are examined on direct, cross-examined, re-directed, and re-crossed.

A fter a trial is held, and proposed findings and judgments are filed, the Judge issues a judgment.

This judgment may be detailed in its specific terms, but will likely not be as detailed in its terms as a divorce agreement would or could be when drafted by the parties.

Upon approval by the court of a divorce agreement executed by the parties, the Judge enters a judgment of divorce. The initial judgment is referred to as the "Judgment Nisi". For all intent and purposes, the parties are divorced, with the impediment that they cannot remarry for 90 to 120 days. The divorce becomes absolute only after the additional 90 to 120 days take place.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
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