What Steps Should be Taken to Prepare for my Divorce Trial?
Although almost all divorce cases will settle outside of a courtroom, some couples do find themselves in a formal trial setting before a judge, to determine the outstanding issues in their divorce. If you find yourself heading towards a trial, it is important to know what a trial entails as well as the necessary information and preparation you and your attorney will need to complete prior to setting a trial date. Trials involve a great deal of time, effort, investigation, and money; therefore, it is important to discuss with your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney your role in this preparation process as well as the procedure in a trial. Our Tallahassee Divorce Attorneys are experienced trial advocates and will be able to evaluate your case specifically and describe in detail the necessary steps to be taken.
After the initial petition, counterclaims, and answers have been filed, as well as mandatory disclosure documents have been exchanged between the parties, it is common, in anticipation of trial, to delve deeper into these disclosures by performing further discovery. Further discovery actions may include simple Requests for Admission, Request for Production of Documents, or third-party Subpoenas requesting documents. However, if there are still unanswered questions that are pertinent to your case, your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney may seek to depose your spouse or other witnesses. Depositions are common, especially in cases that are being prepped for a trial, as they allow your attorney to ask questions that your spouse or other witnesses will be answering in court. This allows your attorney to know the answers the witnesses will provide in advance of trial and your attorney will be able to precisely prepare their cross examination of the witness. Further, if your spouse or the witness changes their answers in court, your attorney will be able to present evidence of the deposition, and how they previously responded to the same question, inquiring into their truthfulness. Depositions are invaluable discovery tactics used in preparation for trial as they provide a great deal of information and evidence.
After evaluating your case and the evidence provided, it may be necessary to retain experts to testify at your trial. Experts are allowed to render opinions based upon their, observations, evaluations, education, and experience. Experts can be hired for a myriad of reasons. For instance, if there is a discrepancy in your ability to work, causing an issue regarding your alimony award, a vocational expert may evaluate your case and testify to your unique circumstances. Further, if there are issues on the valuation of certain marital properties, experts may be employed to provide their opinion on the values designated to each property. Even in the case of child custody, psychologists may be retained to evaluate the children and parents and provide testimony as to the competence of the parents and the wellbeing of the child as well as the situation that best suits and encourages the best interest of the child. Expert testimony is given a great deal of weight with the court in comparison to lay witnesses, as they have to retain a certain level of education and experience in their field to be deemed an expert in court.
After evidence, witnesses, and experts have been retained the court will have a pretrial conference. At this conference the court will require the parties to list the issues to be decided, the length of time you anticipate the trial to take, the list of witnesses and experts to testify, and the court may require the parties to stipulate to certain facts or evidence in the case to simplify the trial proceedings. Overall, this conference provides the judge with a general overview of the case and how the trial will proceed. This is where you will retain an official trial date.
In the weeks leading up to trial, your attorney will have meetings with the witnesses and experts to be called, as well as a meeting with you to discuss each testimony. He will discuss the questions he is likely to ask while on the stand, and review the information each individual testifying will be able to provide to the court that assists in proving your specific claims. Your attorney will not tell the witness what to say, these meetings are simply to ensure the testimony of each witnesses is crucial to the case, and the information they are able to provide, he can prepare to draw out in their testimony through proper questioning. Your attorney will also inform the witnesses, and you, of the necessary attire and decorum required in a courtroom. Further, these meetings allow the attorney to organize the introduction of certain evidence. Evidence may only be introduced after laying proper foundation and only certain witnesses may lay such foundation. Therefore, after discussing their testimony the attorney will be able to properly organize the timeline of evidence to be presented during each testimony.
Once all evidence and testimony and has been organized, you are set for trial. Your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney is experienced and comfortable in a courtroom setting, and will ensure he properly advocates for your during this trial. The amount of time, preparation, and dedication put in by our attorneys leading up to the trial sets us apart from other firms. We ensure that not only are we prepared, but you and our witnesses are equipped to handle the courtroom and properly advocate for your rights.
Speaking to an attorney at our Tallahassee office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.