Pretrial hearings are held after discovery has closed. (See our material on Discovery for a complete discussion of this term, and its place in the divorce process.) The Pretrial is the time when the parties (and the GAL if there is one) are expected to discuss settlement, and to notify the judge of all issues that cannot be settled by agreement. This allows the judge to properly schedule the rest of the case.
At the Pretrial, the parties must submit Pretrial Statements, proposed orders and financial documents. See Final Orders and Financial Affidavits and Child Support for specific information about those documents.
The Pretrial Statement must include the following paragraphs:
A brief description of the issues that are disputed
A list of property in dispute, the value of the property, and whether or not appraisals will be submitted. This list should include as necessary:
- Real estate
- Accounts and investments
- Personal property
Special circumstance that would justify:
- An adjustment to the child support guidelines
- An award of sole legal custody
- An unequal division of property
A list of expert witnesses (if any)
A list of other witnesses
A list of any pending motions that the parties need the Court to address
Any unresolved discovery issues or disputes
The estimated length of the trial
The Status of settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolution
Special circumstances (such as out of state witnesses) that will affect trial scheduling
- Whether or not a record of the trial is requested
As with all documents submitted to the Court it is CRUCIAL that this document be prepared thoughtfully. There are significant consequences that may flow from a poorly prepared or inadequate Pretrial Statement. For example, unless there are truly good reasons, a witness that is not listed on a pretrial statement will not be allowed to testify.
Either immediately following or at the Pretrial Hearing the Court will schedule the Final Hearing. If the final hearing is scheduled for 2 or more days then the Clerk will also schedule a Trial Management Conference. (If the final hearing is scheduled for less than 2 days the Clerk may schedule a trial management conference if the Clerk and Judge think it would be useful.) The trial management conference is the time for the parties and Judge to decide how the case will proceed, which issues still require a trial, and what pieces of evidence will be submitted. Any documents that will be used as evidence should be brought to the trial management conference so they can be marked as exhibits. (Original versions of documents should be brought.)
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Concord, NH 03301
Call LARC at 1-800-639-5290 or 603-224-3333
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This pamphlet is based on the law in effect at the time of publication. It is issued as a public service for general information only, and is not a substitute for legal advice about the facts of your particular situation.