Divorce may be either contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, the parties typically agree that the divorce is necessary and are able to agree as to how the assets and debts from their marriage should be divided, as well as agreeing on issues like child support and child custody. The divorcing parties provide the court with a copy of their agreement and, assuming that there are no major red flags, the agreement is typically approved and adopted as an order of the court. However, Milwaukee divorce lawyer Terese J. Singer recognizes that an uncontested divorce is not always feasible.
In contested divorces, the parties have one or more issues on which they simply cannot agree. For some people, there may be one sticking point related to who gets a certain asset, like a family home. For others, there may be disagreement on virtually all of the issues that need to be decided in a divorce. Left unchecked, this type of a divorce can quickly become an unwieldy affair, subject to all types of complications and delays. In order to avoid this happening, many courts employ pre-trial hearings to help narrow down the issues truly in dispute in a divorce.Pre-Trial Hearings in Wisconsin
Pre-trial hearings are usually one of the last steps in the divorce process before the divorce trial itself. They occur after pleadings have been filed and financial disclosures exchanged, as well as after discovery related to the divorce is completed. Pursuant to Wisconsin’s state statutes, a pre-trial hearing can be used by the judge to address any issues that would help with the just and speedy resolution of the case at trial.
Wisconsin law specifically provides that judges can use pre-trial hearings to simplify the issues to be presented at trial, including identifying those parts of the divorce on which both parties can readily agree and eliminating any claims or arguments that are without merit. This helps limit the scope of the divorce trial itself.
The pre-trial hearing can also be used to address evidentiary issues that are likely to come up during the course of the trial. For example, one party may have documents that they intend to introduce, or witnesses who will testify in their favor. If the other party has objections to this type of evidence being used, or contends that such evidence is false or misleading, these kinds of issues can be preemptively addressed at the pre-trial hearing in order not to take up the court or jury’s time during trial.The Strategic Value of Pre-Trial Hearings
In addition to being beneficial for judicial efficiency, pre-trial hearings can also be used strategically to enhance the possibility of negotiation or even settlement. Many divorcing parties head toward trial convinced that they absolutely have the better case and better arguments. At the pre-trial hearing, they may gain insight into the judge’s thoughts about the merits of their case, and, in many cases, this can cause parties to reevaluate the strength of their positions. Rarely is one party to a divorce absolutely likely to win and the other absolutely likely to lose. At the pre-trial hearing, judges may reveal their view about the strengths and weaknesses of both parties’ positions.
Similarly, the exclusion of certain arguments or evidence from trial can bring people involved in a divorce back to the bargaining table. If one party loses their ability to introduce a key piece of evidence or the testimony of an important witness, this can make them more willing to try to settle the divorce in advance of trial.Seek Guidance from a Knowledgeable Milwaukee Attorney During a Divorce
Given the strategic nuances that can arise in preparing for and going through a pre-trial hearing, it pays to work with an experienced and insightful divorce lawyer who can help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and position you to maximize the possibility of a successful settlement or make sure that you are fully prepared for trial. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Attorney Terese J. Singer can aggressively represent your interests in all hearings before a divorce court, while also making sure that options for a settlement remain on the table. Contact our office for more information at (414) 271-6400 or through our online form. We represent people in Milwaukee, Racine, West Bend, Mequon, Waukesha, and elsewhere in Milwaukee, Racine, Washington, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties.