Minnesota Divorce Procedures Series: The Pre-Trial Conference

The information below on the pretrial conference is one in a series of articles on Minnesota divorce procedures and the Minnesota Family Court process.

The pre-trial conference is a mandatory conference in which the parties and their attorneys must appear. Depending on the county, it is held anywhere from four to six months after the filing of the initial pleadings.

Some important facts concerning the pretrial conference are: 1.) A pre-hearing statement must be drafted by both parties, filed with the court, and served upon each party 10 days prior to the pre-trial hearing. This filing is mandatory and a party failing to abide is subject to sanctions, which may include fees, the striking of pleadings, or other relief as determined by the court.

2.) The pre-hearing statement sets forth the parties' financial status (income, expenses, and liabilities) and position on custody and parenting time. A monthly budget, the parties' most three (3) recent pay stubs, and a proposal concerning custody and parenting time must be attached to the statement.

3.) The pre-hearing statement is an important document, and must be completed carefully by each party. Since this document is served upon both parties and is filed with the court, you and your attorney should double-check your submissions, as the pre-hearing statement can be "used against you" or your spouse later on in the proceedings. (For example, inconsistent statements made on the pre-hearing statement such as income, asset value, or monthly expenses can be used against a party, if at trial, that party tries to submit evidence that is contrary to statements made on the pre-hearing statement.)

4.) The pretrial conference is an opportunity for the parties to attempt settlement. In some situations, the parties' attorneys will speak to the judge presiding over the case. The attorneys will inform the court of the contested issues. Many times, cases are settled (fully or in part) at the pre-trial conference. If a case settles, the court will allow the parties to read the agreement(s) "onto the record." Once the agreement is read onto the record, the court will direct a party to draft the agreement for circulation and submission to the court.

5.) Matters that do not settle will be set for trial. The court will then issue an order - usually called a Pre-trial Conference Order or Trial Order. This order will set the date and time for trial, and will set forth other orders regarding the exchange of exhibits and witness lists, for example.

The pretrial conference is one part of Minnesota Divorce procedure.  If you would like to have a consultation with a Minnesota divorce lawyer in the St. Paul or Minneapolis area, please contact Chris Banas at  651-361-8109.

Categories: Divorce