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What to Expect at Your Divorce Trial

The final divorce trial is an event that is both highly anticipated and highly feared by many spouses involved in a divorce. The final hearing signals the end of what is often a long, emotionally exhausting, and expensive process. Conversely, knowing that your future is in the hands of the judge is understandably intimidating. Knowing what to expect from trial and how to behave can help reduce anxiety.

During a trial, there will be a specific order followed for who gets to talk first. Usually, the person who filed the divorce papers first gets to speak first. This means that the petitioner’s attorney will have the chance to give his or her opening argument first, and then the respondent’s attorney will have their turn. Next, the petitioner’s attorney will have the first chance to call witnesses and put on evidence. After the petitioner’s attorney finishes questioning a witness, the respondent’s attorney will ask questions before the witness can leave. After the petitioner finishes presenting witnesses and evidence, the respondent will be able to present his or her witnesses and evidence. Again, the petitioner’s attorney will get the opportunity to ask questions of each of the respondent’s witnesses.

Unlike trials you see on television, there will probably not be many people in the court room watching what is going on. In fact, it is typical for the court to mandate that anyone who is going to testify (except for the spouses themselves) to leave the court room until it is their turn to testify. The reason for this is to prevent testimony of one witness from influencing or changing the testimony of another witness.

Almost always, trials are conducted with a high amount of courtesy and manners. Lawyers do not shout or berate witnesses, and doing so can invite a stern rebuke from the judge. While the attorneys may sometimes ask very pointed questions, the court typically requires that lawyers conduct themselves with politeness. Witnesses and parties are also expected to conduct themselves like adults. Outbursts or speaking out of turn by the witnesses or parties will not be tolerated, and the court will deal with it accordingly. In short, the theatrics presented in court room dramas viewed on TV or the movies rarely actually occur during trial, even if the trial is highly contentious or emotionally charged.

We are highly experienced in divorce litigation, and can answer any questions you may have about what to expect and what happens during a trial. Call us today at (253) 272-9459 to talk about the divorce process and how we can help you.

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