Opening and Closing Statements at Trial in Colorado Divorce and Family Law
In divorce AKA dissolution, as well as child custody and support cases, some matters are resolved agreement between the parties and some go to trial where a court decides the issues. If you do go to trial, there are several steps to prepare. One important step is planning and preparing your trial evidence in the form of exhibits. Another is planning and preparing an opening and closing statement.
Opening and closing statements. Trials often begin and end with statements about the nature of the case. Opening statements are not common in family law cases due to often short timelines for hearings and trial, however some judicial officers offer the opportunity to present one. The opening argument will provide the court with an overview of the case and an identification of the legal issues to be resolved. The statement should focus on what the evidence will show. The Petitioner presents first and an opening argument should cover:
- A description of the family and dynamics;
- Relevant legal issues;
- Disputed facts;
- What facts will be proven; and
- What remedy is sought from the court.
Although objections can be made during opening and closing arguments, they are not favored as they interrupt the follow of the narrative. Though there are times where they should be made if counsel is overstepping bounds. Common objections are that counsel is:
- Improperly arguing the case rather than simply presenting an overview;
- Improperly referencing a matter precluded by court order;
- Improperly referencing settlement discussions; or
- Stating facts that will have no evidentiary support.
In contrast to opening statements, closing arguments are common in domestic relations cases. The closing argument summarizes the presentation focusing on the evidence presented and how it supports a party's request for remedy. It should include a discussion of the relevant law. Only evidence admitted at hearing or trial may be discussed in the closing. For this reason, after showing evidence to a party, it is important to remember to take the follow-on step of admitting it into evidence. If damaging evidence has been admitted by the party, such evidence may be mitigated.
In closing arguments, counsel should be sure to identify evidence admitted, comment on party or witness credibility and request an appropriate remedy based on the evidence presented. As with opening arguments, objections may be made, however are disfavored and should only be made when absolutely necessary. Objections to consider for closing arguments are that counsel or a pro se party is:
- Personally attacking counsel, a party, or a witness;
- Making statements of personal belief; or
- Arguing facts not in evidence.
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law 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.