How Can A Pretrial Conference Benefit Me in My Florida Divorce?


When going through a divorce in the state of Florida there will be many meetings with your attorney, documents produced and certain steps taken prior to a conclusion in a trial. If your case in unable to be resolved in any informal negotiations or mediations you may find a conclusion in the form of a courtroom trial. However, the court will require a pretrial conference to be had before setting such a date. The judge will require at least one pretrial conference to gain an overall understanding of the issues under dispute. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will be with you at every hearing including the pretrial conferences. Your rights will be protected and your Orlando Divorce attorney will ensure your voice is heard.

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 12.200 provides pretrial conferences to occur at anytime on court’s initiative or upon a party’s request. These conferences serve as an informal meeting between the parties, their attorneys, and the judge appointed to the case. The conference should determine the issues within the case, the need of amendments to initial pleadings, the simplification of undisputed facts, need of expert witnesses at trial, the schedule of discovery, determine a possible settlement, refer parties to mediation or arbitration, refer parties to a parenting coordinator, appoint a guardian ad litem for the child and set a date and time for trial. This meeting serves as the basis for settlement or simplifying the issues and items necessary at trial.

During this time, the judge will be able to gain a better understanding of the pertinent issues and aid the case in a resolution. The goal of this meeting is to support in the speedy and informed conclusion of the case. Therefore, during this time the judge will provide input on the issues, allowing you to determine what might be their final ruling if your case is unable to settle and ends up in trial. If the judge concludes there are certain issues ready for trial, they will begin by taking actions to simplify the trial. They will require the witness list of each party, determine the undisputed facts and the issues already agreed upon by the parties. Therefore, you and your attorney should come to this conference prepared with all arguments, issues and evidence. It will be important to have an experienced and knowledgeable Orlando Divorce Attorney to guide you through this process and advocate for your rights.

Each party will be given proper notice prior to these pretrial conferences. Florida rules require at least 20 days notice be given to each party of an action. This allows both you and your attorney to properly prepare all necessary evidence. Your presence is required at these meetings. Although, informal in nature, these are critical conferences. Failure to attend a conference, gives the court power to “dismiss an action, strike the pleadings, limit proof or witnesses, or take any other appropriate action.” If you have extenuating circumstances, such as you are out of state, you may be able to petition the court to appear by phone. Discuss with your Orlando Divorce Attorney your options if physical attendance is not available to you.

A pretrial conference, although informal, is incredibly significant to your case and must be approached with knowledge and preparation. Understanding the divorce process is difficult, so rely on your Orlando Divorce Attorney to guide you through your divorce and protect your rights.

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