Preparing for Trial
Headed to hearing or trial and wondering what to expect?
Don’t walk into a trial or hearing without preparing ahead of time.
First, make sure you re-read the Financial Affidavit that was filed in your case.
Many attorneys ask 50-75% of their cross examination questions on the Financial Affidavit so you should know your Affidavit like the back of your hand. Recall why you listed the figures you did for assets and debts and how you arrived at the numbers in your budget. If they are based on actual expenditures, be prepared to say that when questioned. if they are estimates based upon future estimated expenses, make sure you say that when cross-examined. Don’t be left tongue tied because you haven’t glanced at your Affidavit in several weeks or months and forgot what you put on it.
Second, re-read your discovery responses and review the documents you produced in discovery. Make sure you know what you said and can support your statements with facts. Be prepared to talk about the documents you produced and their significance in your case.
Third, make sure you know exactly what you are asking the court for and why. If you want alimony, explain why you need alimony. If you want more than 50% of the marital assets, you need to explain why you think you should get more than a 50-50 division of assets. If you have other items you want, be prepared to explain to the Judge why you are asking for the relief you are seeking. You want to ask for what you want as long as it is within reason. If you come across as overreaching or greedy, your list of wants may backfire on you.
Fourth, be honest and sincere at trial. Insincerity and untruthfulness comes across loud and clear to judges. When you are honest, your testimony comes across as candid and unrehearsed and you are more likely to be believed by the judge.
Finally, don’t be afraid to compliment your spouse at a divorce hearing or to admit to your faults. Courts appreciate parties who don’t exaggerate every single point in an effort to persuade the judge. That technique usually backfires on judges who have a keen eye for hyperbole. Instead, give credit where credit is due and own up to mistakes you may have made but be sure to put them in the proper context. If you made a mistake, be sure to explain tot he judge that what you did was not due to an extreme or emotional event and is not your normal response. Admit that you have learned your lesson and point out how you have changed.
Preparation is key to winning at trial. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to have a successful outcome once you know what to do. So hold your head up high and be confident that you will win!