What a PreTrial Statement is and What You Need to Include in It Before Your Custody Trial

Jun 29, 2018

I want to talk to you about something that's closely related to one of the videos I've done in the last couple weeks about providing notice.   If you haven't watched that video already, go back and take a look at it just.   To briefly summarize in the video I tell you that you have to put the other party on notice of all the claims that you're making in your case. So related to that I want to talk about the pretrial statement. Your pretrial statement is a statement to the judge where you tell the judge what it is that you're asking for at trial. I imagine that in different states and countries different judges have different rules about what's required in your pretrial statement. In Arizona the judges require us and the rules require us to include information about the uncontested issues.   That means issues that parties don't necessarily disagree on in fact. Those are issues that the parties might actually agree upon.

We also have to include information about contested issues. Those are the issues in dispute and we have to include information about witness exhibits attempts at settlement.

There's a whole laundry list of the things that we have to include in a pretrial statement.   It’s not uncommon for people who are representing themselves not to include an issue that is in dispute in the pre-trial statement. I will tell you at least in Arizona if you fail to include a contested issue in your pretrial statement then you waive that issue at trial . You cannot bring it up at trial and you're basically telling the judge it's a non-issue by failing to include it in the pre-trial statement.

A lot of people don't realize that so then they get the judge's decision back and the judge hasn't ruled on a particular issue that maybe the parties were arguing about t up throughout the case. The judge says well too bad so sad. It wasn't in your pretrial statement so I didn't decide it.   So first of all follow the rules about what needs to be included in your pretrial statement.   There very well may be a case or a rule that says if you omit an issue from that pretrial statement that you're waiving the court deciding that issue even if that is not a specific rule or there's not a specific case in your jurisdiction.

It’s good practice to include each and every issue in dispute in that pretrial statement but the pre-trial statement is a really great guide for me I use it as a baseline or an outline to help me examine witnesses at trial.   That way I can remember to include every issue that's in dispute. If I fail to include a specific issue in that pretrial statement, chances are I'm not going to cover it with the witness and my clients going to be out of luck.

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