A person’s experience in divorce court will largely depend on whether they are having a contested or uncontested divorce. When a couple can reach an out of court settlement, known as a separation agreement, then they might only go to court and get a divorce by summary judgment. The requirement for a divorce in NC is a one-year separation. If everyone agrees or there is no answer filed to the divorce complaint, you can file a motion for a summary judgment and not have to appear in court. Typically, an uncontested divorce is a relatively straightforward process.
A contested divorce is much different. If the parties dispute their date of separation or have potentially reconciled such that they have not been separated for one year, there will be a hearing with both parties and witnesses. Below, we highlight what our clients need to know about the trial and how they can best prepare for it.
Witnesses Will Testify
A divorce trial is like any other trial. Each side can present witnesses in support of its position. Your spouse can also present witnesses and other documentary evidence, and your attorney can cross-examine the other side.
You Will Testify
Many of our clients are nervous about testifying. However, an experienced attorney can help you prepare.
For one, you may have already given a deposition in the case, during which you answered questions under oath with a court reporter present. The deposition is a little like a fishing expedition, but experienced attorneys can often glean what issues the other side considers important based on the questions they ask.
Your attorney can help prepare you to be an effective witness in court. Your attorney will give you helpful advice on how to answer the opposing counsel’s questions. For example, your attorney will tell you to always answer questions truthfully and never guess. However, most will advise that you should only answer the question asked. Don’t volunteer information or try to guess what answer your spouse’s attorney wants you to give.
Often, embarrassing information can come out in court. Financial problems, gambling and other addictions, and even infidelity could get aired in open court. Your attorney should help you prepare for this and might even raise the issues first, to take some of the “sting” out of them in the eyes of the judge.
A Trial Could Take a Long Time
Depending on the number of witnesses, your trial might be only be a couple of hours or one day. However, it could sometime take several days. In divorce court, it isn’t unusual to meet on non-consecutive days over the course of weeks. The scheduling will depend on the judge’s and court’s calendar.
Divorce trials are not held in front of a jury. Instead, the judge hears the evidence and will decide the issue. At some point after the trial has ended, the judge will issue a ruling determining if you have been separated for one year. If so, a divorce decree will be issued.
Let Us Assist
Our firm has deep experience in contested divorces, and we can help you prepare for one. We also are adept at resolving disputes without the need for a trial, by using mediation, collaborative law, and other techniques.
Please contact us today. We will gladly meet with you to discuss your situation. Some people try to divorce on their own only to find out they are in over their heads. We can help at any stage of the case.