pretrial conference

Separating couples have disagreements on settling all types of issues... geese top my weird chart though.
Separating couples have disagreements on settling all types of issues… geese top the weird chart though.

Hi there,

There are many stops on the road before a divorce trial takes place. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse still have disputes after your four way meeting, your next shot at settling the case is through a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference, the judge who would preside over the actual trial is the judge who will look through all your documentation and tell everyone what he or she thinks about the remaining disagreements. If you’re able to work through the disputes, this can be a great opportunity to settle without going to litigation. Your attorney should bring a draft agreement, as most people get divorced on the day of the pretrial conference.

Tell Your Story with a Pretrial Memo

In preparation for your pretrial conference, your attorneys have the opportunity to explain your side of the story through a well-written memo (a “pre-trial memorandum”). This memo should clearly explain to the judge what you want and why you deserve it. It’s your chance to tell your side of the story in the best way possible.… Keep reading

In Divorce, Compromise is NOT a Dirty Word

Hi there,

While listening to the recent doom and gloom about the government shutdown, I was incredibly annoyed by the perception that everyone in elected office in Washington should have been forced to compromise by their own common sense. It also occurred to me that Washington is not unlike divorce court. Opposing sides, rigid positions, angry murmurs — it could be any morning in the hallways of any divorce court. Where the Constitution balances powers to eventually force compromise, the Probate and Family Court sets up mechanisms to encourage resolutions. And any resolution will require compromise.

The first Probate Court compromise enforcer (huh) is the Family Service office. Generally you would be involved with the Family Service office the first time your case comes into court with motions regarding temporary parenting or temporary support. The FSOs are, by and large, well trained, hardworking and very aware of how the judges in their particular court handle routine issues.

The next point of forced compromise is the pretrial conference. At this point in the process all of the discovery should be done, and if there is a Guardian ad Litem her report should be in. In other words, the … Keep reading

Modification Process in Massachusetts Divorce Cases

Hi there,

The modification process is a bit more streamlined than the divorce process, mainly because there is a lot less discovery.  Since the property division portion of a divorce agreement or judgement is not modifiable, issues of valuation are rarely necessary.

Modification has a defined starting date: the date of the divorce.  What were the circumstances then?  This is shown by the financial statements or the custody plan as well as the court judgement or the parties’ agreement.  Then the question becomes: What are the circumstances now and what is the material change in circumstances that warrants a modification?

If the modification is being brought under the new alimony law, then the change in circumstances will have been set forth in the law itself.  In these cases, generally the person paying is asking for a reduction.  The burden of proof is on the recipient to show why (if she/he can) the reduction or elimination should not take place.

Aside from alimony cases, the party alleging the change in circumstances usually has the burden of proving that a material change in circumstances has occurred.  Most judges will not allow modifications at the time of motions for … Keep reading

Hi there,

Done well, by both counsel and the judge, the pretrial conference is a great opportunity to settle a divorce case. That is if you have not already settled it at the four way meeting, in which case you probably will get divorced on the day of the pretrial conference.

If you haven’t settled, this is the time for the attorneys to write a memo that tells the story of your circumstances and sets forth in the best light possible what you want, and why you want it.  By the time of the pretrial there should be no open questions as to values or assets.  If there has been a custody issue the Guardian Ad Litem report should be in and should have been reviewed. Both sides must file an up to date financial statement and should file an asset chart as well.

The idea behind the pretrial conference is that the judge can read the memos and the financials; ask the lawyers if they have anything to add then the judge can tell everyone what he or she thinks about the areas of dispute. Then the parties and their lawyers (who hopefully have also brought draft agreements … Keep reading