While the goal for most divorcing couples is to reach an agreement that avoids a trial, there are times when litigation is simply unavoidable. If it seems like your divorce is headed to trial, it is helpful to understand the process your case will go through.
Every situation is different, but the trial process in Georgia divorce cases generally follows the same progression. After weeks or months of preparation, both sides will have the chance to present their argument in front of the judge. If you are in the middle of separating from your spouse, it is important to know your rights and legal options. Let our experienced attorneys provide you with a divorce trial overview in Atlanta, GA.
Most of the work in a divorce case is done prior to trial. It is important to ensure there is evidence to back up your claims. This includes preparing witnesses and collecting documents. These investigations are known as the discovery phase, and both legal teams must share their findings with each other.
One of the most important things to prepare for in a divorce is what the actual trial will look like. In most types of legal actions in Georgia, a jury will make the ultimate decision. Family law is an exception to this rule; in most divorce cases, the judge decides these issues instead of a jury. This is known as a bench trial. Bench trials are standard for any divorce case involving child custody issues. However, divorcing spouses may agree to a jury trial for certain issues like the division of marital property. Our Atlanta team can help you prepare for your divorce trial and provide a comprehensive overview of what to expect.
The first stage of a divorce trial in Atlanta, GA is known as the opening statement. The opening statement is not used to call witnesses or introduce evidence. Instead, this part of the trial is intended to inform the judge of an overview of each side’s arguments. Both divorce attorneys will have a chance to speak. They will outline the witnesses they plan to call as well as the evidence they intend to introduce.
Once opening statements wrap up, both sides get the chance to call witnesses. The testimony of witnesses plays a big part in divorce proceedings. Most of the time, the plaintiff will have a chance to call their witnesses first. This usually involves the plaintiff testifying on their own behalf. It is rare for children of a divorcing couple to testify in court, but if they are old enough, they may meet privately with the judge to share their input.
When the first side that calls a witness is done asking questions, the other party’s attorney will have their chance to ask their own. This type of questioning is known as cross-examination.
In addition, witness testimony can also involve the introduction of evidence. For example, witnesses might be asked to testify to the accuracy of financial records or photographs.
Once all evidence has been submitted, each attorney gets one more chance to address the judge. This closing argument is used to highlight all of the important evidence heard at trial. At the end of the closing argument, the family court will make a decision.
The prospect of going to trial in a divorce case can seem overwhelming, but you are not alone. You have the right to hire an attorney that will serve as your aggressive advocate throughout the process. Reach out to our firm today to speak with a trusted member of our team about the divorce trial overview in Atlanta, GA.