What Does It Mean To Have A Trial In A Divorce Case
The overwhelming majority of divorce cases settle. The reason that so many cases settle is a good one; it allows the parties to control much more of the distribution of assets and parenting time arrangements. If a case goes to trial, the judge could very well decide things in a way that leaves neither party happy. Another reason that so many cases settle is the high cost of trial. A trial takes many hours of preparation and the trial itself can take several days. In many cases, the cost of trial can exceed the value of the assets being disputed. Thus, most people can't even afford trial and they are ultimately forced to settle.
Despite these facts, divorce trials do occur. Some cases are so heavily disputed that a trial is the only means of solving the issues. For these clients, the decision about whether or not to go to trial can be daunting, and can even seem overwhelming. In an attempt to make such a decision easier, this article will explain what goes into a divorce trial.
The first step of a trial is adequate preparation and a big part of adequate preparation involves discovery. Discovery is the process of exchanging information with the other side. Items such as interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admissions are all considered discovery. Because some of these documents may have been created by third parties such as accountants or medical staff, it may be necessary to have an "expert" testify as to the authenticity of documents before the court will consider them. Part of the preparation process will involve meeting with the experts before trial and reviewing their testimony.
Another aspect of trial preparation involves informing the court of the facts and circumstances of your case. This is done by way of pre-trial submissions such as stipulations and a pre-trial memorandum. These documents will let the court know what each side wants out of the case as well as what issues have been settled, if any, and what issues remain. This stage of preparation will normally require significant input from the parties as well as collaboration between the attorneys.
The trial itself can be anywhere from a day or two, to over a week, depending on the number of issues outstanding and the complexity of each issue. It is also important to remember that the trial may not always be conducted from start to finish on consecutive days. The court may have days that it must hear other matters, or may need to schedule your trial for a few hours at a time. The result of this is that a trial can span a matter of weeks if not months despite only encompassing a few hours of actual trial time. This significantly adds to the cost of a trial as you pay your attorney to wait around and then prepare multiple times to stay up to date on the case.
At the conclusion of trial, the court will prepare an opinion. There is no set time as to when the order will be issued by the Court. Some litigants have waited several months before receiving the opinion on their case. The attorneys have no control over how quickly or how slowly the court is in issuing its opinion.
Once the opinion is entered there is a possibility that the litigation will not yet be complete. One party may file an appeal or ask the judge to reconsider his or her opinion. These issues can extend the litigation significantly and are far too complicated to be discussed here.
As you can see, the divorce trial is a complicated and lengthy process. Trial requires patience from all parties and a commitment to your cause. Because of these complexities, it is important to have an attorney by your side who is experienced not only with divorce, but with divorce trials.
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