Stage 7 – Trial
A trial is the final step in the divorce process. As indicated, less than 3% of all divorce cases go all the way to a trial. A trial is time consuming and therefore usually very expensive. You will need to prepare your testimony and evidence, and, if experts were involved, to prepare them to testify as well. A pre-trial memo will be submitted outlining the issues that the court will be required to decide and justifying your position as to those issues. A trial can last anywhere from less than a day for a simple case, to several weeks for a complicated one. Although the court is supposed to schedule the days as close together as possible (“continuous”), the realities of the court’s calendar may require that they be spread out over time, with half-days of trial on different dates. I have had trials with multiple dates that were scheduled in a week, and had dates that stretched out over almost an entire year.
The first trial date will usually be a “back up trial”, meaning the court will schedule two or more cases on the same morning. This is done as many cases “settled on the courthouse steps” on the day of trial.
The second trial date is usually a “real date” and the trial will commence. It will often be proceeded by a final conference with the judge to see if a resolution can be reached.
At the trial, the judge will hear testimony from each party, experts, and witnesses before ultimately making a final decision. It can take anywhere from two weeks to 18 months to receive a decision from a judge as to the issues. The judge’s decision will result in a divorce being entered. Barring any appeals of the decision, this will finalize your case.
If the trial judge makes mistakes or misses the mark completely, an appeal can be taken. While past performance is no guarentee as to future success, I have prevailed in 100% of the applications I’ve brought to dismiss an agreed restraining order (some via settlement / agreement, some via a motion, some after a hearing).