Not all divorces have to go to trial, but if your divorce is volatile and you can’t agree, it might be in the best interests of the case to end up in court. There are times when two people can’t agree outside court, won’t go to mediation and refuse arbitration. If all negotiating options fail, then the only option is to allow a court to take on the case and for a judge to make a decision on the divorce.
In the majority of cases, divorces are resolved with settlements. However, if your case can’t be settled, then a trial might be the only choice. Your attorney will prepare for the trial, building a case for the things you want to get out of your marriage, for custody-related matters and other factors in your divorce.
What will you need for a divorce trial?
Most people come prepared for a divorce trial with:
- Documents and records, such as those that show their finances, marital property and other important information
- Witnesses. Witnesses can provide tesimonies about the person’s ability to raise children, their finances and other important factors that could affect the divorce
- Their own testimony. Each spouse usually prepares a testimony for the judge to hear, which could sway them one way or the other in the case
In family court, the judge presiding over the case listens as each side discusses what they’d like to see happen as well as their evidence and support for their claims. The other party has a chance to cross examine witnesses, the other spouse and anyone else speaking to challenge the story they’ve produced.
The goal is to test each witness or the spouse’s credibility and to dispute things that aren’t being presented truthfully. Your attorney’s job is to discredit the other party when possible to help your case.
After the judge (or jury, in some instances), listens to the case, they’ll make a ruling regarding the divorce and any issues related to it. Once this decision is made, it’s binding. That means that the judgment is final and that you and the other party will have to abide by what the court order states.
Any obligations and responsibilities of either party are listed in the judge’s final judgment. You and the other party have a right to contest this through an appeal if necessary, though it is rare for an appeal to result in the judgment being overturned.