Judges hearing Illinois divorce cases usually require divorce lawyers for both parties to meet in at least one pre-trial conference. At this meeting, the attorneys present to the judge the progress of the divorce settlement and discuss any new issues that need to be resolved between the parties. During the conference, judges may make suggestions regarding the settlement and give indications as to how they might rule on various issues raised by the attorneys.
Purpose of a Pre-Trial Conference
Pre-Trial conferences are not a cause for concern by the divorce petitioner or defendant. In fact, they can be very useful in resolving and expediting a divorce proceeding.
Because they are informal, pre-trial conferences generally take place in the judge’s chambers away from the public. The parties to the divorce are usually not present in the meeting but are asked to be available during the pre-trial conference in the event issues arise requiring their acknowledgment or input.
Typical matters addressed during a divorce pre-trial conference include:
- Child custody and parenting time
- Division of parental responsibilities
- Distribution of property and assets
- Spousal support and financial settlement
- Progress and schedule for moving forward to a judgment and dissolution of the marriage, or, if no agreement is possible, to a final divorce hearing
Divorce lawyers can also present their evidence and more fully explain their client’s case during the pre-trial conference. To assist parties in coming to an agreement and to avoid the expense of a trial, judges will frequently advise how they might rule in contested matters and offer recommendations for settling disputes. The attorneys can then report to their clients about the strength of their case and the possible outcome if they do not reach an agreement or implement recommendations provided by the judge before a final hearing
Reaching an Acceptable Settlement
Pre-Trial conferences are intended to expedite divorce proceedings and move them to a final settlement while reducing expenses for both parties and the courts. Divorce lawyers who are fully aware of all facts relating to their client’s divorce case may be able to use the pre-trial conference to move the proceedings forward and reach an acceptable divorce settlement.