What happens if you’re unable to reach a settlement and need to go to court for a divorce trial?
Your first step is to find a dedicated and supportive family law legal team.
By the time a situation has reached a boiling point where you need to call a divorce lawyer, you may already feel frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed.
Our team approach to every case is designed to get the right person for the job. Depending on your specific needs, we assign one or more of our legal team, consisting of attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants and support staff.
We aim to prepare each case in a progressive, thorough and efficient manner, depending on the complexity of your case, keeping your budget in mind. While the legal process can be complex, we work to educate our clients on exactly what they can expect along the way.
The next step is deciding whether you need to move forward with either an evidentiary hearing or trial.
If feasible, we will first try to negotiate a resolution out of court on terms that are acceptable to you. What if your spouse is being deliberately difficult? Making settlement offers that are clearly not reasonable?
Our legal team will work with you to assess your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Sometimes, the best option may be to let the judge decide. If you are stressed out about going to court, consider the information below about what to expect.
What Is the Difference Between an Evidentiary Hearing and a Divorce Trial?
In the courtroom, the judge has the ultimate decision-making power and calls the “balls and strikes” rather than your spouse. Before you get to a divorce trial, you may need to seek the judge’s help to decide on issues that arise before trial.
These motions or evidentiary hearings may be requested by either party after filing a formal “Request for Order” application. These hearings are typically for interim types of relief such as establishing a child custody order, setting support, determining who will have exclusive use of the family residence, whether attorney’s fees should be paid by one side. During an evidentiary hearing the Court will issue a ruling on one or a few issues in your case.
A trial is the ultimate hearing during which the Court decides all issues in your case such as child custody, division of property including professional practices, retirement plans, options, real property, support, and fees. This is not done until after such time as “all cards are on the table” and full information has been exchanged.
During evidentiary hearings and trial, both parties may present exhibits and testimony to support their positions. In some instances, there is witness testimony and expert witness testimony to assist the judge in making a decision. Which means both require preparation – the time and expense required are entirely dependent on the complexity of the issues presented, the cooperation received from opposing counsel and/or the opposing party, and the number of issues resolved both in and out of court.
Preparation for Both an Evidentiary Hearing and Divorce Trial Follow a Similar Trajectory: Discovery, Disclosure, and Your Eventual Day in Court
What if your spouse has more access to documents or may be hiding assets? Discovery is the organized exchange of information between the parties. It enables the parties to know before the hearing or trial begins what evidence may be presented. Discovery also allows the parties to decide whether they want to settle based on the evidence that will be presented.
There are many possible discovery and electronic discovery tools: Demands for Production, Interrogatories, Depositions, Requests for Admissions, and Subpoenas, to name a few. However, each case is different and narrowly-tailored discovery tools should be crafted with the outstanding issues in mind. At times, an investigator may be employed.
Disclosure is required throughout your Family Law case. There are statutorily-mandated financial disclosures that must be made. The Court will also set deadlines for the disclosure of witnesses and exhibits that you intend to introduce at the time of hearing and/or trial.
Your Day in Court
On your day in Court each party will call their witnesses, present their exhibits, and the Judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented. You may receive a decision immediately in court or the Judge may issue a written decision later.
Throughout the process, our unique team approach assures a level of service that creates real value for our clients. Our team approach assigns specific responsibilities to both lawyers and staff members to ensure that all legal and administrative functions are resolved on time and in keeping with our client’s needs and goals.
We are settlement minded but stand ready for trial! Ask us for a consultation so that we may assess your options and guide you to move forward.