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Pretrial Motions in Divorce Actions

Often times divorce actions require litigation. If the parties decide that litigating the case is the only way to resolve the disputed issues, parties may need to file pretrial motions. A pretrial motion is a motion filed by either party requesting that the court take some action. Some issues need to be determined prior to the final conclusion of the case. Some common areas in which pretrial motions may be filed include:

  • Temporary custody.
  • Temporary child support.
  • Temporary spousal maintenance.
  • Temporary alimony.
  • Protection orders, especially if domestic violence or child abuse has been alleged.
  • Discovery requests especially financial documents.

Discovery Requests

Either party may file a motion to compel the other side to comply with their discovery requests. Discovery requests could include such things as interrogatories, depositions, or turning over documents to the opposing party. Production of discovery requests should occur prior to trial. Failure to comply with discovery requests may result in sanctions to the non-compliant party. The trial court may order the opposing party to answer interrogatories, for example, and if the opposing party fails to answer the interrogatories, sanctions may be levied against the opposing party for its non-compliance.

Discretion of the Trial Court

It is within the trial court’s discretion to determine whether to grant or deny a pretrial motion. The trial court may conduct a hearing or may decide the motion based upon the written format submitted to the trial court. For custody issues and issues involving protection orders, the trial court will often hold a hearing to determine the validity of the issues of the issues raised. If, for example, both parties wanted temporary custody of the children, the trial court may ask the children, depending upon their age and the jurisdiction, which party he or she wished to reside with. The trial court may also require that the children undergo an evaluation by a psychologist or some other medical professional as well in determining a temporary custody issue.

The trial court may order temporary custody, maintenance, child support or alimony to either party. The trial court may eventually adjust the amounts awarded prior to the final disposition of the divorce case or may leave the amounts as originally awarded.