Throughout my years as a Chicago divorce lawyer, most of my clients realize that a judge at trial may ultimately decide their divorce. This is true. However, the majority of my family law and divorce clients are happy to learn that there is a less formal opportunity to resolve their case that often takes place before a final divorce trial. These are called pretrials, or pretrial hearings.
Pretrial hearings are an invaluable element within divorce cases. They help familiarize the court with the pertinent issues of a case. They can assist in settling a divorce case before the case goes to trial. Let’s take a closer look at pretrial hearings.
What Is A Pretrial Hearing?
Pretrial hearings are also referred to as pretrial conferences. Pretrials are actually a conference held in the privacy of the judge’s chambers between the lawyers on a divorce case and a judge (the actual parties to a case are not present). The conferences are held so that the lawyers and judge can discuss all of the details of a case, or at times, just certain main issues. These issues may be temporary in nature (e.g., administrative issues) or they could be the global issues that are central to the resolution of a case (e.g., custody, visitation, allocation of property, or support issues). At a pretrial conference, each divorce attorney presents the judge with their respective position on an issue and the facts supporting this position. The judge listens to each side and then makes a recommendation as to how matters should be settled. The parties are not obligated to accept this recommendation.
Which Judge is at the Pretrial Hearing?
The answer to this question varies. In Cook County, Illinois, some Chicago divorce cases are assigned to specific judges. For these cases, the judge present at a pretrial conference is also the same judge who will ultimately preside over the case at trial. Some cases, however, are not on individual judge calendars. Rather, a case may be assigned to a team. In this case, the judge who hears a pretrial will not generally be the same judge who hears the ultimate trial.
The Use of Pretrial Hearings in Settlement
Pretrial conferences can be a very helpful tool in settling a divorce case before actually going to trial. As stated above, a judge offers his or her recommendation on an issue, or issues, after listening to an Illinois or Chicago divorce attorney. This recommendation often includes the judge’s guide as to how the court believes the parties should settle their issues. This guide can be useful in finding a common ground for the parties to agree on prior to trial. Please also keep in mind that there are no limits as to the number of pretrials that can take place in a given case. This also helps in settlement. Multiple pretrials can be utilized as a tool to assist in multiple attempts at settlement. Pretrial hearings are often conducted prior to a final trial. In my experience with over twenty years as a divorce lawyer in Chicago, these hearings are definitely beneficial to all of the parties involved.
Please contact me if I can answer any of your questions concerning a pretrial hearing.
Michael C. Craven is a partner of the Chicago law firm, Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP and well-respected Chicago divorce attorney, CPA who holds a LLM, Master of Tax Law Degree. Currently, Michael is the Secretary for the North Suburban Bar Association and sits on the Board of Managers of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Illinois Chapter. Attorney Michael Craven is available to provide speaking engagements on topics related to Illinois Family Law to professionals, community or religious organizations. For more information about all of his services, contact him at email@example.com.No comments yet