The thought of divorce trial can be frightening. A judge or arbitrator will make significant decisions that impact you for years. If your divorce case is contested and you’re likely to try your case, what should you ask your attorney?
Have you ever tried a divorce case?
This is not a crazy question. Many lawyers focus their practices on cases that do not go to trial. Others pressure clients into settling because they are not willing or able to try the case. You need experienced trial counsel, and there’s no way to find out if your lawyer has the right skills without asking. Family cases in Texas may also be tried to juries instead of the judge. You therefore also want to know about your lawyer’s experience trying cases to a jury or arbitrator.
What is involved in trying a divorce case?
Trials are complex and intense. Divorce trials involve multiple levels of strategy, preparation and presentation of evidence and testimony, and briefing and argument to the Court. Ask your attorney to walk you through divorce trial involving your issues. See if your attorney sees any weaknesses in your case. Discuss trial preparation with your attorney, such as documents that need to be gathered, witnesses that may testify, and areas where evidence needs to be developed.
What can you tell me about the court?
Once the divorce suit is filed, it is assigned to a court. Judges are people, and as such they have their own preferences, biases, likes, and dislikes. It is important to know your audience, i.e. what a particular judge finds important and persuasive. Ask about the court and how that may impact the way the case is going to be tried. Ask whether it might be advantageous to demand a jury trial or perhaps arbitrate the case. Discuss pros/cons of bench versus jury trial, trial versus arbitration, and what the lawyer’s thoughts are about the court the case is in.
What options are there if I disagree with the court’s rulings?
If the court renders an improper ruling or judgment, or makes a legal error, you may be able to appeal the court’s rulings or judgment. There are strategies and pros/cons to doing so. Appeals are complex and costly, but may be worthwhile depending upon the reason for the appeal, the strength of the argument that the trial court committed error, and the relief asked from the appellate court.
Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer about divorce trial. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your case, having a plan to prepare and develop your case for trial, and having confidence that your lawyer is prepared to try your case is critical in a contested divorce case. Call us or schedule your consultation online now to discuss your case.
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Patric McCallum is a principal attorney with Drew & McCallum. He focuses his practice on family and business law, helping business leaders and Texas families with their legal challenges and needs. He brings a wealth of trial experience and industry knowledge to every matter he handles.