Discovery and Trial Planning
After a case is filed, next comes financial disclosure and sometimes discovery to obtain more information. If the case is not resolved through negotiation or mediation, then trial preparation follows. Information gathering is important to ensure knowledge of all relevant facts. Discovery is one method of obtaining more information than what is available through mandatory disclosure. Domestic relations cases present a variety of issues and complicated fact patterns. Discovery can aid in gaining knowledge that will allow for successful negotiation or for presentation of each party's best case at trial.
Discovery and trial planning start with an assessment of facts. Sometimes the facts are disclosed through the mandatory disclosure process. Other times they must be gathered through the discovery process. Legal standards guide what facts must be proven. Due to the length of the court process, it is not unusual for facts to change throughout the proceedings. This is the reason for a continuing obligation to update disclosure and discovery answers throughout the course of a proceeding. Issues often arise however as to timing of updates as C.R.C.P. 16.2 does not specify when disclosures and discovery must be updated.
Once the facts are obtained, the law must be applied to the facts to determine the strength of a party's case. Discovery and trial preparation are guided by the legal standards as the court must hear evidence on the applicable legal standards to make a decision. At trial sufficient facts must be presented in evidentiary form to permit the court to make findings in support of the remedies sought.
It is not uncommon for parties to prioritize emotional issues that do not aid the court in making decisions. It is important to understand legal standards and what the court requires to make decisions. It is often necessary to conduct statutory or caselaw research with regards to specific fact patterns.Developing a Theme
Developing a theme or theory of the case guides what facts are needed to prove the case at trial. A theme facilitates connection of what may seem disjointed facts and allows for a coherent trial presentation. For example, in a case where both parents are asking for primary custody of a child, a basic theme might be that Mother has long been the primary caregiver and the child is established in her community. Further that Mother retaining primary parenting time would be in the best interests of the child. Of course, there will be many facts that may allow for expansion and enhancement of the theme. Keep in mind that domestic relations cases can evolve rapidly and the theme must adapt as facts change.Obtaining Facts
The next step is to obtain facts to support the theory of the case. Facts may be emotionally tainted or incomplete, so corroborative information is always desirable. Courts expect that parties are going to present facts in the best light to them, and are inherently biased in their testimony as they have an interest in the outcome of the case. Provide your attorney with the positive and negative facts. Every case has strengths and weaknesses. The only way that an attorney can mitigate bad facts is to know them up front. If the attorney is surprised by a bad fact at trial, then there will not be much that can be done on short notice to mitigate that fact.
Facts are also obtained through disclosure and discovery. Disclosure and discovery are different in some ways in domestic relations cases then they are in general civil cases. For example, the mandatory disclosures are oriented specifically towards the facts needed in domestic relations cases and relate to financial disclosure. Additionally, there are preset pattern discovery questions, whereas there are no preset questions in standard civil cases.
Facts may be obtained from sources such as employers, accountants, tax preparers, banks, caregivers, and family members, etc. Third parties may have relevant information that a party to the case may not have, such as specialized information on business finances.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced spousal maintenance modification attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. This allows you to focus on to a better future. Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.