The Trial (Part 1)
The final major event in the divorce process is the trial. Although fewer than 5% of all divorces go to trial, this statistic, like many such numbers, is misleading. If only the divorces of middle and upper class clients with children were included, the percentage would at least double. If the sample were limited further to include only cases where the mom is a homemaker and the marriage lasted in excess of 10 years, the percentage of cases that reach trial would probably double again. The length and complexity of your trial will depend on the time the court allocates and the number and complexity of issues to be decided. Your trial may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and–in rare cases–a few weeks.
The trial is your opportunity to present your best evidence to the judge in the most persuasive way possible. Therefore, given time limitations, an effective advocate will usually select only the most favorable evidence to present a vivid and comprehensible picture. Your evidence may consist of testimony by various witnesses, tangible objects (e.g. a gun), various documents (e.g. school and health records), and visual aids.
During the trial itself, you and your attorney will be seated together (usually at your own table), as will your wife and her attorney. While clients envision a courtroom full of onlookers, most divorces do not command much public interest. Often, apart from the parties and their attorneys, only the judge, a court reporter, and a bailiff are present. Witnesses may or may not be present. Some states may require closed hearings under certain circumstances, especially where minors are involved. Also, either party may: make a motion to the court to exclude witnesses from the court room altogether.
This online custody guide is adapted with permission from “Civil War: A Dad’s Guide to Custody” (266 pages, softcover) – available in our online store.