What is Trial?
I remember when I was a young attorney I met with a client in jail who was facing a criminal charge. I explained several options available to him, including accepting a plea bargain from the State Attorney. After I explained each option he quickly replied “I want to go to trial!”. After expressing his desire for a trial numerous times I accepted his choice and was in the process of concluding the interview, when he had one more question to ask. He then asked me “Whats a trial?”
I realized early on in my career that I should never assume that the average person understands our court system. We have all heard various legal terms and may understand some of the basics, but for most of you the system is an unknown. So, when deciding whether to settle a case or proceed to trial, it is important to understand what your actual choices are. In a dissolution case such a choice can have important implications to not only your future, but the future of your minor children as well.
Dissolution trials, also called final hearings, are before a Circuit Court Judge. We do not have jury trials in family law. The final hearings are not held in large courtrooms, but rather a judges chamber; which is the size of a conference room. This Judge will make all decisions after hearing the evidence. Once the Judge makes his/her decision, then that will be the ruling in the case. The time for negotiation will be over and you have lost control over the outcome. The Judge will almost never meet your children, yet he/she will make decisions concerning their future. Your life will be condensed into several hours of testimony, which the Judge will consider in making a decision. You will be questioned by your attorney and your spouse’s attorney. Witnesses can be called to testify if their testimony proves to be relevant to the issues in a case.
Trials take a great deal of time to prepare. Time means additional costs and fees. In addition, your court date will be scheduled months away. If you are unhappy with the Court’s ruling you can file an appeal with the Appellate Court. This will cost additional fees and costs and usually takes up to a year for a decision to be made. In addition, a very very small percentage of family law cases get over turned by an appeal. Your chances for success are minimal.
The above is why approximately 90% of dissolution cases end in settlement. If however, the offer of settlement is unfair or unreasonable, you may have no choice but to go before the Judge. I suggest that if you are in fact choosing to try your case, make sure you have an experienced litigator. The right attorney can make all the difference in the world.
You can be assured that our firm will vigorously represent you and work toward a favorable agreement.
For answers from an experienced divorce lawyer about the divorce process in Weston and Pembroke Pines, email us or call my office at 954 385 9160. Let us explain how we can help you through the complicated process.