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What Happens if Divorce Goes to Trial in Colorado?

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What Happens if Divorce Goes to Trial in Colorado?

Many divorces can be resolved amicably, which speeds along the process and is usually less expensive for all involved. However, sometimes divorcing couples cannot agree on certain key terms of their divorce, such as custody or alimony. In these situations, going to trial might be unavoidable. Below, our Colorado divorce lawyers sketch out what happens at a divorce trial in Colorado.

Discovery

The discovery process allows each side to request information from each other and from third parties. In a divorce, we often request bank records or other financial information. Spouses might need to sit for a deposition, where they answer questions under oath, or a judge could order a psychiatric evaluation of each parent to help determine who the children should live with. Discovery can be a lengthy process, taking many months or over a year. For this reason, it can be very expensive.

Status Hearings and Other Court Dates

“Going to trial” is rarely a linear, smooth process. There are many mini disputes that judges need to decide. For example, you might want copies of your husband’s business records but he doesn’t want to cough them up. A judge needs to decide this issue.

There might also be many status hearings where the lawyers come in to tell the judge how the litigation is proceeding. It is also not unusual for the court to set a trial date but for it to be delayed””sometimes multiple times””because the lawyers are busy or the court’s docket is crammed full.

The Trial

In many ways, a divorce trial is no different from other trials. However, there is a key difference””the judge will decide the case. So there is no jury to select.

The evidence presented will depend on what issues are in dispute. Some couples only dispute a few issues””say child custody and the division of marital property””but don’t dispute other issues, like child support. Still other couples dispute everything.

If a judge needs to allocate parenting time (custody), then witnesses can include teachers, babysitters, family, and friends. Evidence might include medical records and school report cards.

It is not unusual for our clients to have to testify, which can be extremely stressful. Also, friends and family might not want to testify but can be forced to. Compelling testimony can often put a strain on a relationship, sometimes permanently.

After hearing all evidence, the judge will usually state that he or she will take the case under advisement and issue an opinion later, usually after a few weeks.

Divorces in Colorado Are Usually Public

Courtrooms are public places, and there must be a very good reason for the judge to close the doors. Anyone can sit in and listen, though most of the people will probably be lawyers and other couples who need to appear before a judge. If you have dirty laundry in your divorce””infidelity, financial mistakes, mental health or substance abuse problems””then that embarrassing information could all come out. If you are a public figure, then expect the press to report on the proceedings.

Discuss whether to Go to Trial with Your Attorney

Divorce trials are rarely ideal, though they are sometimes unavoidable. When your spouse is acting unreasonably, then the smarter move could be to take your day in court. Your Colorado divorce lawyer will help you decide what is in your best interest.

At Divorce Matters, we have handled many trials and guide you through the process. Reach out to a member of our team to schedule your confidential consultation.