Questions About Going to Court

Questions About Going to Court

How can I prepare myself for my day in court?

In cases where the spouses are not able to resolve their disputes without going to trial, divorce proceedings are a battle. Few people are prepared to deal with the reality of the courtroom and the fierce confrontations that often happen there. There may be no other time in the divorce process where it is more important to have an experienced lawyer who will fight to protect your interests. Depending on the issues that have yet to be resolved, your attorney will present your side of the argument and your spouse’s attorney will present his or hers. Both you and your spouse will likely be called to testify and be cross-examined by your spouse’s lawyer. Once the judge has heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence, he or she will make a decision. It is often best to work out a reasonable solution if possible. At trial, you give up control and leave it in the judge’s hands. By reaching an agreement on your own, you still might not get exactly what you hoped for, but at least you maintain control of the outcome.

Does the judge decide our entire case if we can resolve everything except how to divide some of our property?

Generally, the judge has to sign off on the final judgment of divorce. However, if you and your spouse have been able to agree on everything except a minor property division, the judge will focus on the property division and will most likely leave the rest of the case alone.

What happens if our divorce case goes to court?

Depending on the issues that have yet to be resolved, your attorney will present your side of the argument and your spouse’s attorney will present his or hers. Both you and your spouse will likely be called to testify and be cross-examined by your spouse’s lawyer. Once the judge has heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence, he or she will make a decision. It is often best to work out a reasonable solution if possible. At trial, you give up control and leave it in the judge’s hands. By reaching an agreement on your own, you still might not get exactly what you hoped for, but at least you maintain control of the outcome.

What is direct examination? How does it differ from cross examination?

Direct examination is where an attorney questions their own witness on the stand. On direct, every question should begin with who, what, where, why, when, how. These are non-leading questions. Direct examinations should advance your side’s theory of the case. The witnesses should tell a story and the questions should ensure the statutory requirements pursuant to state statutes to obtain the relief the client is requesting.

Cross examination is only leading questions. Leading questions are those that typically call for “yes” and “no” answers. This can be setup by taking a thorough deposition in advance of trial. These questions must stay within the scope of questions asked on direct examination.

What is a deposition?

A deposition is the taking and recording of the testimony of a party or witness (lay or expert) under oath before a court reporter outside of the courtroom before trial. Depositions are part of the normal pre-trial process in a divorce or family law matter. Deponents will be sworn in and will truthfully answer questions asked by the attorneys. The questions and answers will be recorded by a court reporter. In fact, the testimony given in a deposition is similar to testimony given in the courtroom except a judge does not preside in the case of a deposition. The purpose of a fact-finding deposition is: 1) to determine what the story is and an individual’s knowledge of the facts in regard to the divorce; 2) to know in advance, if the case goes to court, what is being contested; 3) to possibly narrow the issues in the divorce; 4) to try to catch a person in an omission or untruth that can later be used in court to discredit their testimony.

What if I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling?

One option is to file a post trial motion asking the judge to reconsider the ruling. You can also go forward with an appeal. Whether you want to appeal a custody judgment after a divorce or you believe the division of property was unfair, you may be wondering whether or not you can appeal the court’s initial decision. Appeals are a complicated area of law, and an appellate attorney’s knowledge and experience is critical to success. Hiring a lawyer is necessary in order to file, pursue or defend your appeal and there are time-lines that are critical to ensure that appeal rights are preserved. An attorney can gather all vital information, order and prepare transcripts, write the brief and present an oral argument before the appellate court. Another option is to modify the judgment at a later time.

If you have more questions and are interested in reading more about court, you can read our articles: American courts and their use of foreign law in family law cases and Preparing for a court date in your case.

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Representing Clients in Divorce & Family Matters

We also handle many other family law matters, including but not limited to:

Dissolution of Marriage
Unfortunately, there are times when a marriage is irretrievably broken and a divorce is the only option. We can help with your uncontested, contested, simple or complex divorce case.
Legal Separation
There are some instances where married parties are separated, but are unsure whether their marriage can be reconciled or may later need to be dissolved. We can help with a legal separation if this is the case.
Annulment
In certain circumstances, a party may be able to seek an annulment if there are circumstances that led to a party being fraudulently induced into entering a marriage.
Family Law
Unfortunately, there are times when a marriage is irretrievably broken and a divorce is the only option. We can help with your uncontested, contested, simple or complex divorce case.
Collaborative Law/Mediation
If you are looking for an amicable resolution to your divorce or family law matter, we have attorneys who can help you with a collaborative family law case or mediation.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
These agreements help couples make critical decisions about their relationships, just in case. While prenuptial agreements are drafted before a marriage, postnuptial agreements are drafted during the marriage, usually when circumstances change.
Paternity Law/Mediation
With approximately forty-percent of all children being born out of wedlock, we represent numerous unmarried parents in child custody and child support disputes. These cases are the twenty-first century divorce and extremely common.
Guardianships and conservatorships
We also represent clients in matters of guardianships and conservatorships, helping them protect the people they love — especially when those people can no longer care for themselves. Our work in this area often involves people facing physical and mental illnesses, alcoholism and addiction.
Fertility and surrogacy
We can help clients negotiate fertility and surrogacy agreements, drafting and executing all related documents as well as resolving any conflicts that may arise.
Step-parent adoption
We represent parents in step-parent adoptions, which usually occur when a parent marries or remarries after the birth of a biological child. Step-parent adoptions help bring families closer together by creating a solid family unit.
Name Change
If you are seeking to legally change your name, we can help.
Orders of Protection
We can help you in legal proceedings involving restraining orders.
Adoption
We are honored to represent clients who wish to adopt a child into their family.
Minor emancipation
In some cases, minors do best when they are given the rights and responsibilities of adults. We assist in minor emancipation, representing both teens and their parents.
Grandparents' rights
Lawyers at our firm also handle grandparents' rights issues such as child custody, guardianship and grandparent adoption.
Appeals
We represent parties in appeals of adverse family court judgments, including divorce, child custody, child support, maintenance and grandparent visitation.
Child Support
We represent clients in matters involving child support.
Child Custody
We represent parents in child custody disputes.
Juvenile Matters
We represent parties in juvenile matters involving the Division of Family Law Services.
Modifications
We assist clients in modifying prior child custody and child support judgments when the facts call for it.
Contempt
We help clients in contempt of court matters as well as family access motions.
Military Divorce
We are proud to represent service members in divorce and family law matters.
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From our webpage, you can also read articles about family law, view informational videos, seminar videos, listen to our podcast, download our mobile application or view support calculators for MissouriIllinois and Kansas.

If you are looking to find and hire a child custody lawyer, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation at any of our convenient locations.

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