Getting a divorce is one of those life events that you will remember for a very long time. Even if the divorce is agreed upon by both spouses, and all of the separation of assets and debts, as well of any custody and visitation, is agreed upon, divorce still can be an emotional experience. Uncontested divorces are by far the best way to go, if possible. But unfortunately, they are rare.
Most divorces involve fighting over custody, the house, and literally anything else that will cause frustration and anger. Hiring a good divorce lawyer will not only allow them to negotiate for these things on your behalf, but will also allow them to run interference between you and your soon to be ex-spouse.
Normally, a Nevada contested divorce will go before the judge a couple times before a settlement is reached. This settlement often happens during a process called “mediation.” This is when both spouses sit down with a mediator in an attempt to come up with a settlement. If all else fails, the case will go to divorce trial.
What is a Divorce Trial?
Unlike the trials you will see on TV cop shows, a Nevada divorce trial does not happen in front of a jury. In fact, the results of a divorce trial will be ordered by the same judge that the entire divorce process has been seen in front of. While judges are supposed to be impartial, they are still human and all of the petty tricks and tactics that a bad divorce lawyer may have used during the whole process will still be in the back of their minds when it comes time to make a final ruling.
Depending on the issues, a divorce trial can last days. Normally it is the issue of child custody that will bring a case all the way to a trial. At the beginning of the trial, both parties attorney will make an opening statement where they present the basics of their case before the judge. Then evidence will be presented and argued, witnesses will be called, examined and cross-examined by both parties.
After all of the evidence has been presented and argued, and the witnesses have been called for testimony, both parties divorce lawyers will make their closing arguments. These closing arguments made by the attorneys are more important than the opening arguments they made at the beginning of the trial. These ending of trial statements are to convince the judge that all of the evidence and witness testimony supports their case, and the judge should rule in their favor. It is these finial arguments that the judge will take into his or her chambers to decide which party wins the trial.
How a Good Divorce Lawyer Can Win a Trial
It may surprise you to learn that what a divorce attorney does during the trial itself is much less important than what they did to prepare for the trial itself. While presenting good opening and closing statements is very important, all of the work that the lawyer has done to prepare for the trial (like writing the statements) will make or break your case. The work that goes into preparing for a divorce trial is ten times more exhaustive than a normal hearing. The pre-trial work, if done correctly will often persuade the opposing party to come to a settlement before trial. If it doesn’t then below is a list of some of the things that your lawyer will have to accomplish to get the upper hand before trial begins:
- Financial Declaration. At the opening of the case, and normally right before trial your lawyer will draft affidavits that disclose your entire financial situation. These declarations will include your wages or salary with attached pay stubs, all of your monthly bills, any other kinds of income, as well as the value of all of the assets and debts you have. These affidavits are made under the penalty of perjury, so any hiding of assets of debts can result in criminal penalty.
- Gathering, Indexing and Disclosing Evidence. In any kind of court trial, the evidence that is presented to the judge will determine who wins and who loses. In a divorce trial, collecting and sorting the evidence is crucial to your case. In the distribution of assets and debts, all bills and statements must be acquired, arranged and submitted to the court and the opposing party. If there are matters of custody, then any evidence that shows the other parenting styles and/or that they are not fit custodians, must be handled carefully.
- Pretrial Pleadings and Motions. The filing of motions and pleadings before a trial is one of the most important things that your divorce attorney can do. These pleadings can move the court to issue orders for a variety of reasons. They can ask the judge to issue financial restraining orders so that neither party can waste community assets or open any new lines of credit in the other party’s name. They can also ask the judge to order who gets temporary physical custody of the minor children as well as for temporary child support and alimony. In Nevada there is a court appearance shortly after the divorce case is opened, called the Case Management Conference, where both sides can argue on these motions.
- A deposition is a meeting between the parties in front of a court reporter where your lawyer can ask your spouse questions under oath. The answers to these questions can be used in court as evidence. In many ways a deposition is like a cross-examination and can be used to determine just what your spouse will say at trial when asked the same questions before the judge.
- Client Preparation. Being called to the witness stand to testify in front of a judge is easily one of the most nerve-racking experiences that someone can go through. The other party’s attorney will most likely ask uncomfortable questions with the intent of trying to rattle you so that you will blurt something out that will hurt your case. Making sure that you are well prepared for this is one of the most important things your lawyer will do. Client preparation takes many different sessions where your attorney will role pay as the other parties lawyer and will ask you all of the uncomfortable questions over and over again, so that when it happens in court you’re prepared to answer them.
It is rare that anyone will want to take their divorce all the way to trial. Even if they do, the judge and likely their own divorce lawyer will counsel them against it. Trials are time consuming and very expensive.
However, if a trial is imminent, it is important to have the skill and experience of a divorce lawyer that has been to trial before. Here at Justice Law Center, we have expert trial specialists who excel when a trial is called for. We offer free initial consultations as well, so that we can discuss your case in detail before you pay any retainer.
Call us today.
Josh Nay is a writer and paralegal with over 10 years of experience in personal injury cases, family law and criminal defense.