At Court – Pre-Trial

What’s a Pre-Trial? 

  • In Minnesota Family Court cases, a pre-trial is typically the last court appearance before the actual trial.  
  • Parties and their attorneys are required to attend.  

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  • A pre-trial usually occurs after the parties have all participated in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), like mediation, and after all discovery has been completed.
  • The pre-trial date is typically, though not necessarily, around a month before the trial date.  

* Don’t Forget: 7 days before the Pre-Trial, parties are required to provide a Personal and Financial Disclosure statement, which updates the Judge about the current status of custody and financial issues. 

The pre-trial has several purposes.

Pre-Trial Purposes

  1. First, the attorneys will inform the Judge what issues the parties are still disagreeing on.  This allows the Judge to anticipate what may be argued eventually at trial.  It also makes clear what the parties do not expect to argue and have agreed on.
  2. Second, the attorneys will work with the Judge to make scheduling arrangements towards the trial.  This includes exchanging Witness and Exhibit lists.
  3. Third, many, but not all Judges will encourage the parties to try to work to settle remaining issues.  Some Judges will require the parties to meet for a certain period of time to at least try to negotiate in good faith.

If, after the pre-trial is over, the parties still have issues in dispute, the case moves forward towards a trial.