What is a Pretrial in a Connecticut Divorce?

"What is a pretrial?" written in black on a white background with the Freed Marcroft divorce attorneys logo in the lower right corner.There are all sorts of terms of art that get thrown around during Connecticut divorces.  At Freed Marcroft, we want you to understand what is happening in your divorce — including what different terminology applies.  Today, we will answer one common question, “what is a pretrial in a Connecticut divorce?”

What is a Pretrial in a Connecticut Divorce?

“Pretrial” is shorthand for “pretrial conference.”  A pretrial conference is a settlement meeting required by the court.  Otherwise put, a pretrial is when the court brings the parties together to assist them in deciding how to resolve their disputes themselves.

Read: What is a Four Way Meeting in a Divorce?

Special Masters Pretrials vs. Judicial Pretrials

There are two types of pretrials in Connecticut divorces, special masters pretrials and judicial pretrials.  In both, professionals experienced with Connecticut divorce law are there to help the parties reach an agreement.  For a judicial pretrial, that person is a judge.  In a special masters pretrial, one or two experienced divorce lawyers volunteer their time to assist spouses in resolving their disputes.

Read: What is a Special Masters Pretrial in a Connecticut Divorce?

What Can I Expect at My Connecticut Divorce Pretrial?

Unlike a trial, neither type of pretrial generally takes place in a courtroom.  Courts generally hold special masters pretrials in a courthouse conference room.  Conversely,  courts hold judicial pretrials in the judge’s chambers.  Commonly, two attorneys serving as special masters. Courts require spouses to attend pretrial conferences, but often they don’t actively participate with the judge or the special masters.

Instead, lawyers meet with the judge or special masters.  Each attorney presents his or her view of the facts of the case, as well as his or her client’s proposal for settlement.  After hearing from both attorneys, the judge or special master gives a non-binding settlement recommendation.  The attorneys share that recommendation with clients, and settlement discussions continue.  What occurs during a pretrial conference is privileged and may not be introduced as evidence in the event of a trial down the line.

Read: What Is a Divorce Trial?

Read: What’s the Difference Between a Pretrial and a Trial in a Connecticut Divorce?

When Is the Pretrial?

Pretrial conferences are regularly scheduled when parties enter into a Case Management Agreements — typically 90 to 120 days after the divorce begins.  Courts try to schedule pretrial conferences after the majority of discovery is complete. This sets the stage for meaningful settlement discussions.

Read: Discovery in Connecticut Divorces

Read: Settlement & Divorce

What Does the Court Require Before the Pretrial?

Prior to a pretrial conference, both spouses must exchange a memorandum explaining the basics of the case.  The parties must also exchange proposed orders that reflect what both parties seek, updated financial affidavits, and if there are children, proposed Child Support Guidelines.

Read: Do We Have To Follow the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines?

What Happens After a Pretrial Conference?

If you reach a full agreement at the pretrial, your attorneys will prepare a Separation Agreement, which outlines the terms of the agreement.  Then, the attorneys ask the court to schedule an Uncontested Divorce Hearing.  That hearing is where you will officially be divorced.  At Freed Marcroft we have developed a library of client-only resources to help you prepare for the pretrial — both practically and emotionally.

If you resolve some issues at the pretrial, that’s a win too.  Settlement discussions can continue.  If you do not reach a holistic settlement, your case will ultimately go to trial with narrowed issues.

Read: What’s an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut?

Next Steps

At Freed Marcroft, we want you to understand what is happening in your divorce.  To learn more about the difference between a pretrial and a trial, please click here.

A skilled legal strategy rooted in your goals shines at pretrials.  Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals for your life. Once we discover your goals at the Goals and Planning Conference, we are able to take our collective experience with divorce, law, the available ways to divorce, strategy, courts, judges, and other lawyers, and build a divorce customized for you.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.