Trial Preparation Steps and Timelines
Are you involved in a divorce or case and are trying to reach an agreement and trial is coming up? You are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at life events and the legal process. The good news is that you can take charge and seek expert assistance. An experienced divorce and child custody attorney can guide you through the trial process. The trial and hearing process can be complex so a knowledgeable guide is important for success. You have one bite at the apple in the court system so make it count. Educating yourself about trials and hearings is important.
Start early with trial planning. There are many steps to prepare as well as deadlines. Once you have a trial date, start backwards planning to make sure that everything will be ready in time for court. You will want to review all of the information that you have to include disclosures and discovery. You will plan what witnesses to call and what documentary evidence to submit. If you are representing yourself, this will be the most difficult phase as you will face more deadlines and requirements than earlier in the case. Organization and preparation are the key.Timing
Trial length will depend on the amount of time requested by you and the other party and how busy your jurisdiction is. For example, El Paso County Colorado is a very busy jurisdiction and many trials are set for only a half day. That would mean each party has only an hour and a half at most to present an entire case. If the court wants to reserve time to issue a verbal order, then you will have less time. The time will not seem long enough and it will go fast, so it is essential to plan the presentation to hit the key points of interest to the court.
The following is a timeline that I like to use for trial planning and preparation. It is a simplified list and not intended to be all-inclusive. It should be used as a guide in conjunction with case management orders and statutory requirements.
As Soon As a Final Orders Hearing Is Set
- Determine your witnesses and contact them with regards to testimony
- Determine your documentary evidence
Nine Weeks Before Trial
- File expert witness list with court
- File expert witness reports
- Prepare evidence
- Begin updating financial disclosures - you will need disclosures updated within the month prior to trial for evidence in court
- Prepare witness direct examinations and opposing party witness cross examinations
- Prepare child support and spousal maintenance worksheets
- Prepare Joint Trial Management Certificate
- Do practice direct examinations with witnesses
- Send trial subpoenas - if you represent yourself you will have to ask the clerk to issue these
Three Weeks Before Trial
- If you are the Petitioner, send the Joint Trial Management Certificate to the other party for them to complete their portion and allow time to discuss and attempt to reach stipulations and to resolve some or all issues.
- File updated financial disclosures and a supplemental certificate of compliance of provision of mandatory disclosure documents with the court and provide to other party
- File evidence and witness and exhibit list and exhibits with the court and provide to the other party
Six Days Before Trial
- Prepare exhibit notebooks for an in-person hearing (Exhibit notebooks contain your evidence. You will need four copies, one for you, the Judge, the other party and the witness stand)
Tip - Know the legal standards that pertain to your case issues. The court will consider evidence related to the legal issues. Many unrepresented litigants make the mistake of just talking about what is important to them rather than researching and presenting information based on the legal issues that the court has to consider.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs trials and hearings by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law Solutions has more than 20 years of legal experience and protects your best interests. She 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.