Litigating Your Divorce Case in Court
Each member of the Plog & Stein family law team is an experienced litigator, with years of courtroom trial experience ready to use for our clients. Our firm prides itself on seeking the best possible outcome in each case. Sometimes those outcomes can only be obtained through a final, permanent orders hearing in front of a judge. Courtroom litigation is serious business and requires not only a great grasp of the law, rules of evidence, and courtroom procedures, but also the ability to think and speak quickly when presenting arguments. When your day in court comes, having the right divorce lawyer by your side increases the chances of obtaining the legal outcome you desire.
Serving divorce and family law clients in Arapahoe, Douglas, and all Denver metropolitan area courts. Offices conveniently located in the DTC and Broomfield. Call us today at (303) 781-0322 or contact us online.
Trial Preparation: In most contested divorce cases ending in a court hearing, there will be several months that pass between the time the case is filed and the final court date. Typically, a case will take 5 to 8 months from start to finish, depending on which jurisdiction it is in. From the outset of each divorce case our firm handles, the assigned attorney will begin assessing and strategizing to determine what will be needed to present your arguments for that final hearing. Given the various divorce issues which can arise (property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support), a great deal of preparation will be needed.
The first step will generally be to gather documents and other documentary evidence (which can include emails, photographs, text messages, account statements, and more) needed to support your claims as to each divorce issue. Determinations will also need to be made regarding whether an expert, or experts, will be needed regarding any of the various issues. If income or earning ability is at issue tied into maintenance or child support, a vocational evaluator might be useful. If the parties own a business or interest in a business, a CPA skilled in valuing business interests might be needed. Sometimes a forensic accountant is needed to deal with hidden or missing assets or funds. Each expert will prepare a written report, which ultimately also becomes part of the evidence gathered for trial.
Beyond gathering evidence, your attorney will apprise you of the steps, rules, and procedures tied into preparing the gathered evidence for trial. This will include disclosing witnesses, both lay and expert, several weeks out. Documentary evidence, generally called “exhibits,” must also be marked, tabulated, and exchanged before trial, with expert witness reports being due a few days after witnesses are declared.
Preparation will also include your attorney preparing lines of argument, outlines, and witness testimony. Preparation of testimony is important, particularly for our clients. We want to make sure each witness we call to the stand is aware of what we may be asking and how to answer. This includes preparing clients for what to expect at their final divorce hearing. Good communication between attorney and client is key.
There are many deadlines to meet and steps to be taken along the way leading up to trial. People often ask whether they really need an attorney. Given the gravity of the stakes in any divorce case, coupled with the intricacy, detail, and formality required to prepare, it just makes sense to use the services of a lawyer when taking your case to trial. At Plog & Stein, we pride ourselves on our trial preparation, which is key to obtaining favorable outcomes in the courtroom. Of equal significance is having the ability to honestly and realistically assess each case, with the goal of making sure our clients are fully informed as to their best options, mapped up with the realities they face at trial regarding each contested issue.
Your Divorce Hearing: Most contested divorce hearings will take a half day or a full day to conduct, though multiple days may be needed in the most complex of cases. The end result of the months of preparation is a carefully orchestrated presentation put together by your attorney, with input and help from you along the way. At hearing, the attorney’s objective is to present the prepared evidence, testimony, and facts in a manner designed to persuade the court to order a resolution most favorable to the client. One can liken a court hearing to the telling of a story constrained by rules and formalities which, if not followed, may limit the content of the story the judge will hear.
The actual hearing will generally follow a routine order, which begins with the exchange of exhibits and the court dispensing with any preliminary matters. The actual trial will ultimately begin with each attorney making an opening argument, followed by the Petitioner presenting his or her case first. Presentation primarily entails witnesses testifying as to the facts, circumstances, events, and tangible evidence for which they are called. Each witness will go through direct examination, cross examination, and redirect. Once the Petitioner has presented his or her case, the Respondent proceeds. When testimony and evidence are concluded, each side may present a closing argument to sum up the evidence and take a last shot at persuading the court. When done, the court will make its ruling on the issues, which may happen that day, or at a later scheduled time.
The family law trial and courtroom experience the attorneys at Plog & Stein bring to the equation allows us to a navigate our hearings in a concise, professional, and effective manner. Understanding the law and what the judge is looking for is paramount. Though we truly hope your case settles before court, rest assured our attorneys will be prepared to litigate your issues if need be. Whether your case concludes through settlement or that final hearing, our only goal is helping you reach your objectives.