Divorce Litigation: Conferences And Trial
The parties often will have settlement conferences with each other with their attorneys present. The conferences can be used to settle temporary issues or even settle the entire case. Often a settlement demand has been sent by one of the attorneys, and this is used as a basis to move forward into settlement. While it is often difficult to have rational conversations with each other, spouses often find this method can help move a case to resolution. Good attorneys use this time to explore resolving the case, and not poking barbs at the other person or creating more conflict.
Often judges conduct a pretrial conference. This is a date set by the court to talk with the attorneys (or the parties if they are not represented), about the status of the case. The court will then set timelines when witnesses have to be disclosed, exhibits exchanged, and arguments about the law and fact have to be submitted. The court will also determine the time needed for trial and set the trial date.
Trial is the time that the court sets aside to actually hear the issues in the case. A preliminary trial is scheduled by the judge to determine what issues are resolved or not resolved. This is scheduled for roughly a half an hour. If possible, attorneys will try to determine if the preliminary trial is necessary. If the parties have not resolved any issues, the attorneys will call the court and request that the trial be scheduled for a certain amount of time and cancel the preliminary trial. At the time of trial, the parties will have witnesses testify, exhibits will be shown to the court, and the attorneys/parties will make arguments about what they want and why. Trial can take as little as an hour, all the way to multiple days, spread over months, depending on the schedule of the court.
Trial is rather time-consuming and expensive. The court will only listen to what is legally allowable. Many smaller issues do not get heard and often information is not admissible that seems very important. After hearing all the testimony and viewing all the evidence, the judge will then make a decision about all the issues. The judge will then issue a legal opinion that tells everyone what he wants to do. That opinion is then put into a judgment of divorce that is entered with the court and ends the case.
See also our web pages on:
- Beginning the divorce process
- Discovery and mediation in divorce
- Friend of the Court and divorce
- Divorce settlement and judgment
Attorney Shon Cook is a certified family law mediator who can help each client or couple determine the essential and beneficial aspects of divorce applicable to each case.