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Pre-trial memorandum, how do I fill one out if I don't know what's contested?

Salem, MA |

Despite my efforts, I never met with my ex or her attorney to discuss the settlement of our divorce. I spoke with her attorney on the phone once about my issues with the draft (which I never signed), but he has not gotten back to me with whether or not we can compromise on any of the issues. The pre-trial hearing is this week. How do I fill out a memorandum when I still don't know what is contested?

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Attorney answers 7


Everything is contested until there is a formal agreement. I suggest that you retain counsel so that you are not at a disadvantage. A Pre-Trial Memorandum is extremely important and you are working at a disadvantage by not coordinating with an attorney.

I wish you all the best.

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Since it sounds like you're Pro Se, you should attempt to contact your husband's attorney again. It is a requirement that you all meet to discuss the action prior to the pretrial hearing. If you are still unable to meet, write your memo indicating this, indicate all issues that you believe you are at odds over, list any outstanding discovery items that are unresolved, and how long you believe a trial will last given the nature of evidence and witnesses you would call (usually 1-2 days tops).

I would highly recommend obtaining counsel to aide you in these tasks. You can also obtain limited representation from certain qualified attorneys who can hired to only write the memo or appear at the hearing with you.

Good luck!

Will Vella, Esq.

A. Will Vella is an Massachusetts licensed attorney who focuses his practice on small business, family issues, and small personal matters . This response is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, this response does not create an attorney client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your state who practices in the appropriate area.


The pre-trial memo in conjunction with the pre-trial conference is a great opportunity to present your case to the judge in its best light. Often judges will strongly suggest settlements (giving recommendations) during the conference based upon the presentations made by the parties. A good memo can sway the judge and help settle a case without trial. Take it seriously.

While courts encourage the pre-trial memo be published jointly between the parties, this seldom occurs and you can submit yours unilaterally. Of course, you will have to serve the court and the other party a copy in a timely manner.

The basic structure of a pre-trial memo is:

Uncontested Facts (general background if there is no agreement)
Contested Facts (issues for the court)
Attempts to Settle (communication with other party trying to settle – point out they have refused)
Discovery (has all mandatory and requested info been exchanged – if not suggest a schedule)
Witnesses (who will to testify – include yourself – reserve right to add at a later date)
Exhibits (what will you introduce as evidence other than witnesses – ex. Financial statements, tax returns, children’s grades, doctor reports, etc.)
Time for Trial (how long do you expect the trial to last)
Proposed Judgment (what would you like the court to order)

Keep it simple and to the point – number each assertion – persuasiveness should be in the facts and the law, not in the prose

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.


List in your memorandum the issues you believe need attention and how you want each issue resolved. Issues could be custody, visitation, alimony, dividing assets, etc.. I assume you are not represented by counsel. If there are assets or children, it would be better to hire counsel. Good luck.

Steve Coren

This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the facts presented. This answer is basd only on Massachusetts law.


I think you posted this question before. Go down to the local law Library. There are demos for all pretrial conference forms. In that form, you can note that you tried to have a four-way conference or three-way conference and the other attorney never contacted you.

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Your ex-wife had the foresight to hire an attorney. You need one as well.



My ex also had the luxury of borrowing several thousand dollars, which I don't. It's not foresight, it's ability.


The pretrial memorandum should follow the format set out in the order. A prior response provides a description as to what each section will include. The purpose is to let the judge know where each party stands on each issue to resolve and where there is likely come agreement.

It is best to have something prepared. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may want to speak to the other attorney and court about being referred to a conciliator. This may help resolve some of the issues that are preventing an agreement being reached. An agreement does not need to be reached an d the matter can go forward with a trial, however, it is often best to reach an agreement and control your own fate.

DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided in response to a "hypothetical" question and provided for general, informational purposes and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The information presented is not legal advice and may change based additional information and research. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney to discuss your specific legal issues.

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