Call: 360-866-7393

What Happens if a Divorce Goes to Trial?

Home / Blog / What Happens if a Divorce Goes to Trial?

For a divorce to start, a spouse must file and serve a petition to initiate the lawsuit. There may be temporary hearings to help solve immediate issues until a settlement agreement is reached or a trial can determine a more permanent solution. Temporary Orders are often proposed and approved by the court to sort out temporary custody, bank and tax issues, as well as financial support.  After temporary orders are established, couples can try mediation or settlement conferences to reach agreements on the final terms of the divorce. These structured meetings are moderated by an impartial third party who uses negotiation tactics to help a couple come to a mutually-beneficial agreement. 

While the majority of divorce cases can be settled in mediation, it isn’t successful for everyone. Many couples cannot reach a compromise resolution without the help of a judge. If that is the case, a divorce trial is the last resort for people to resolve their differences. 

What is a Divorce Trial Like?

In a formal trial, you and your ex-spouse, usually with the help of an attorney, will present your case to a judge in a courtroom. The judge will consider the evidence presented by both sides and will make decisions about disputed matters like child custody, division of assets, and spousal support. 

Here’s what to expect from a divorce trial:

  • Petitioner presents their case: The Petitioner, who is the person who first filed for divorce, presents their case to the judge first. That includes witness testimony and other evidence such as documents regarding children, assets, and finances.
  • Respondent presents their case: Following the Petitioner, the other spouse, or Respondent, presents their side of the case and their supporting evidence to the court.
  • Witnesses testify: Each spouse will call witnesses to the stand to testify on their behalf. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, and teachers can all comment on either party’s strengths or weaknesses. Afterward, each party has an opportunity to cross-examine the others’ witnesses.
  • Petitioner’s refutation: The Petitioner has a chance to rebut the Respondent’s presentation.
  • Closing statements: After all of the information, documents, and testimonies have been presented, both parties’ attorneys will recap the evidence that was presented throughout the trial, while advocating for their client’s position.
  • The decision: The judge will make their ruling and provide details about each aspect of the divorce. Parties will sign an official document, which concludes the trial and finalizes the divorce. 

Divorce Trial Checklist

If you expect you are on the road to a divorce trial, here are things you can do ahead of time to prepare and set you on a path towards a positive outcome.

1. Gather the Necessary Documents 

Your attorney and the judge will require income records, tax returns and other financial documents from the prior several years, information about the children’s education and living conditions, any documents pertaining to owned property, debts owed, and other information relating to the substance of the issues the two parties do not agree on. Not everyone has this information handily accessible, but don’t wait until the last minute to locate important documents. Strengthen your case by gathering all necessary papers ahead of time and be fully prepared to provide the paperwork requested. 

2. Remain Calm 

Decisions in the courtroom can be impacted by your overall demeanor and state of mind. During a divorce, you are under added stress and emotions run high. Regardless, it’s important to remain calm. Keep your feelings under control, don’t allow yourself to appear agitated, and refrain from emotional outbursts. 

3. Prepare with your Attorney 

Meet with your attorney to discuss in detail what to anticipate throughout the trial. Find out what paperwork you need to complete, what documents to provide, and what you should or shouldn’t say in the courtroom. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel and the better impression you’ll make.

4. Understand Common Misconceptions 

There are many misconceptions surrounding divorce trials. For instance, outside conversations usually cannot be used as testimony. Since they didn’t occur under oath, they’re considered “hearsay” and are not admissible as evidence in court. Additionally, fault and blame are not a deciding factor in awarding favor in Washington State.

Expect the unexpected, especially with the current pandemic restrictions. Trials and many other court proceedings are actually being conducted in new and unorthodox ways, such as by Zoom.     

Get the Representation You Deserve

If you’re a man in Washington state preparing for a divorce or looking for legal representation, Divorce Lawyers for Men can help. Our experienced team of family law attorneys recognizes the challenges men face during a divorce. We can assist you in navigating the legal road ahead. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Categories Divorce

Real People, Real Results

Divorce Lawyers for Men Reviews

"I never thought my wife would agree to anything. After a few discussions though, we were able to agree on a lot of issues concerning the children. Divorce Lawyers for Men helped me put those agreements in writing and resolve my divorce with less conflict."

"Divorce Lawyers for Men was very helpful with my case. The staff and attorneys are very knowledgeable and provided great advice. They provided me understanding of various courses of action and brought to light specific things I wouldn't have thought of. Most importantly respected my decisions and beliefs in finalizing my case."

"My wife wanted to live in our house with her new boyfriend while I kept paying the mortgage. Divorce Lawyers for Men made sure the court saw all our property and debts. We sold the house and split the proceeds. I didn't have to pay for any free rides."

"I never wanted to get divorced. One day my wife came home and said that she had met someone else. Why do I have to lose my house and my children just because she is done with our marriage? Thankfully, I hired Divorce Lawyers for Men."

Washington's Only Statewide Family Law Network

Select an Office near You.

Bellevue
1520 140th Ave NE #200
Bellevue, WA 98005
Everett
2727 Oakes Ave #201
Everett, WA 98201
Kent
555 W Smith Street, Suite 106
Kent, WA 98032
Olympia
3025 Limited Ln NW #200
Olympia, WA 98502
Port Orchard
1740 Pottery Ave #300
Port Orchard, WA 98366
Puyallup
2102 E Main Ave #203
Puyallup, WA 98372
Seattle
701 5th Ave #4200
Seattle, WA 98101
Spokane
1008 N. Washington St., Second Floor
Spokane, WA 99201
Tacoma
1015 Pacific Avenue #301
Tacoma, WA 98402
Vancouver
237 NE Chkalov Dr #212
Vancouver, WA 98684