Often in initial consultations, clients want to know something about what happens if their case requires a trial. Often, knowledge is power in the sense that clients knowing and understanding what to expect can help ease their fear and worry of the unknown.
Will My Case Go To Trial?
While trials in divorce or family law matters are somewhat rare in the sense that more cases are able to be resolved through settlement than trial, in some cases, a trial is necessary. In some situations, the parties are able to reach a settlement as to some of their issues, for example, parenting time or asset division, but are unable to resolve all issues. In both, Kansas and Missouri, the judges are supportive of the parties resolving and coming to agreement on any issues that the parties are able to do so.
When Is a Case Ready for Trial?
Generally, a case is scheduled and ready for trial after settlement efforts between the parties have failed. This often means that the parties have attended mediation and been unable to resolve things through mediation. In other cases, if the other party is not communicating or responding to requests to discuss resolution, a party will ask that their case be scheduled for a trial date to continue moving it forward. Typically a case is set for trial when discovery has been exchanged and reviewed, experts have been retained and have weighed in on their area of expertise, if needed, and the parties have the information that they require to prpare for and attend trial.
How Do I Prepare for Trial?
Prior to a trial, you will meet with your attorney and/or paralegals in their office to prepare for the trial. This typically involves preparing exhibits, preparing for your testimony, any other witnesses you wish to be called on your behalf and providing relevant information and evidence on your behalf. While your attorney will work to review discovery, depositions and other relevant information in your case, it is equally important for you to carefully review it so you can talk intelligently and testify on your positions and request in the trial.
How Do I Testify At Trial?
When you are called as a witness in your divorce or family court case, you will take the witness stand and be sworn in by the judge or clerk. You will tell the court room and the people in the court room that you understand the requirement and importance of telling the truth while you are testifying. Typically, you will be asked questions about your marriage, the history, assets and debts, parenting issues and other relevant information for the judge to be able to make a decision in your case. You will often be asked questions by both, your attorney as well as your spouse or former partner’s attorney. It is very important that you listen to each question and clearly and accurately answer the question asked of you. If you are unresponsive, the judge is less likely to find you credible (believable) and decide that differences in the testimony between you and the other person should be decided in your favor. If an objection is raised, you need to stop testifying and wait for a decision or ruling on the judge as to whether you should continue testifying or stop talking and wait for the next question.
Do I Need To Submit Documents for my Family Court Trial?
Yes. Generally, at some point in time prior to trial, documents and evidence will need to be submitted to the other party and the court. This can include documents that you prepare with your attorney such as a proposal for a parenting plan, asset division, child support and other similar items. This may also involve documents that you have available such as tax returns, paycheck stubs, police reports, pictures and other tangible evidence.
Who Testifies at Trial?
Both parties almost always testify. Beyond that, if there are parenting issues and a guardian ad litem has been appointed, he or she may testify or provide recommendations. Beyond the parties, sometimes additional witnesses are called. These witnesses can include expert witnesses or fact witnesses. Again, it is important that you speak with your attorney in the weeks and months leading up to trial to make decisions about who is an appropriate witness to testify at your trial.
What Happens at Trial?
The Petitioner or moving party will go first. He or she will call witnesses to testify and introduce their relevant exhibits or evidence while examining each witness. The other party will have an opportunity to question the witnesses the first party presents (known as cross-examination). After the first party concludes presenting his or her case, the Respondent or second party will have the same opportunity to present witnesses and exhibits. If applicable, the guardian ad litem will typically give his or her recommendation after both sides have presented their testimony and evidence.
Do You Believe You will Require a Family Law Trial in Missouri or Kansas?
Call Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 today to schedule your consultation. Allow our knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys to assist you with planning for your trial or resolution in your case in Missouri or Kansas.