10 Jan


  1. Reply to Answer – Depending what is in the answer there may be a requirement to reply to the answer (usually if there is a counterclaim for divorce).

  2. First Pretrial – The first pretrial (or case management conference in some counties) is a chance for the magistrate or judge to hearing the preliminary issues of the divorce. Some courts will set up a schedule for the case at this hearing, while some just set up the next pretrial. If there is a custody dispute, the court is likely to appoint a guardian ad litem for the children. Some preliminary orders may be issued. In addition, if it turns out that the case can be settled that day, the court may be willing to have an uncontested hearing. If that is the case the divorce will be over that day.

  3. Discovery – Discovery is an opportunity for the parties to find out information from the other party that will be needed to help resolve the case. In many low conflict cases, the discovery will be informal. In high conflict cases, the attorneys may use the rules of civil procedures methods for discovery. While this can be burdensome, there is the advantage of court enforcement. Normally a discovery cutoff will be set which is the last day that the parties can ask for enforcement motions on discovery.

  4. Subsequent Pretrials (or Settlement Conference) – All pretrials after the initial pretrial are designed to see if the case can be settled. If there is a settlement the court would hold an uncontested hearing and the case will be resolved. It is also a time to hear any motions and to issue other pretrial orders.

  5. Trial – Domestic Pretrials do not have juries and may or may not be heard in a courtroom. Witnesses are called by both sides and there is the opportunity for cross-examination. There is hardly a case where the judge issues a verdict at the trial. Instead they will either issue a magistrate decision (in the case of a magistrate) or a final judgment entry (in the case of the judge). If the matter is resolved by magistrate decision a judgment entry will be prepared provided there are no objections 14 days after the issuance of the magistrate decision.

  6. Submission of Decree -If you’re hearing officer was a magistrate then the judge will still need to sign the document. In most counties you will receive a certified copy of the decree in the mail (in Cuyahoga County they will likely email the copy to you).