Preparing for your pro con

By Marie E. Matyjaszek

You’ve finally made it to the end – the culmination of months of hard work, dividing assets and creating a new future for you and your soon to be ex-spouse. One more step remains until you’re legally single – the “pro confesso,” aka pro con hearing. The name, like so many medical and legal terms, derives from Latin, meaning “as though confessed.”

Generally, only the plaintiff appears for this hearing, but nothing prevents the defendant from attending as well. For this hearing to run smoothly, you must make sure you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s. If you are getting divorced and have no minor children, you’ll wait at least 60 days from the date of filing to the pro con. If minor children are involved, absent court permission, six months is the mandatory wait time. If the parties can show a hardship or other compelling reason to be divorced before the six months, the court can grant an exception; however, 60 days must have passed.

Once you’ve complied with the time frame, you need to make sure all your paperwork is in order. At minimum you will need the Record of Divorce/Annulment and the Judgment of Divorce. If kids are involved, a Uniform Child Support Order and Domestic Relations Judgment Information Form are generally required. Similarly, if spousal support is awarded, a Uniform Spousal Support Order is usually necessary. Certain retirement accounts require Qualified or Eligible Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs or EDROs) for the retirement benefits to be divided.

You won’t need Friend of the Court (FOC) approval if you only have a Judgment of Divorce and/or QDRO or EDRO (no children and no spousal support). Otherwise, be certain to submit your final documents to the FOC for review and approval. Do so as far in advance as possible, because if there are issues (let’s just say there often are), it may take several attempts to cure those defects.

Once you’ve secured the treasured FOC approval, submit the final documents to the court for entry – this may be hard copies or electric filing – be sure to check which is required for your judge.

The pro con hearing itself is easiest if you have an attorney who can guide you through the required Q & A. The court needs to know certain facts under oath, including (but not limited to): the statements in the complaint for divorce remain true, the female party or parties are not pregnant, and the marriage cannot be preserved, and the objects of matrimony have been destroyed. 

You will be asked specific information about your children and if the orders are in their best interest, and the court needs to know if the settlement was reached freely and voluntarily. 

There will likely be other questions, so it’s best if you ask your judge if he or she has a preferred pro con testimony script they’d like you to read from.

The judge will ask any clarification questions or any required ones that you missed and will declare you divorced and sign the final documents. At times, parties may not have the final documents prepared and signed but have no fear! 

The court can still take the pro con testimony and preserve it, giving the parties a timeframe to submit the executed documents for the court’s signature.

Like most things in life, preparation is key to achieving your divorce – while you may not plan on divorcing, you can plan for it to be smoothly finalized.


 The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court. Email her at  

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