What Happens At An Arizona Divorce Trial?

The Arizona Court prefers that divorcing parties reach their own agreements.  This is because parties tend to be happier and more compliant with orders when they agree to the terms of the divorce.
Further, the Court knows that parties are in the best position to determine the most appropriate Orders for their particular situations.  While the Judge will do his/her best to come up with fair and appropriate orders, the Judge is a stranger to the litigants and their families.  Judges have a limited amount of time in trial to hear evidence and get to know the parties.  Most trials are only two to three hours long.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement through mediation or otherwise, the parties will have to present evidence, law and argument at trial to convince the Court why it should rule in his/her favor.  One or both parties can prepare for and attend trial with an attorney or on their own.
To prepare for the trial, both parties will have to timely disclose their evidence and expected witnesses/witness testimony and experts to the other party. The parties will also have to cooperate in drafting what is called a “Joint Pretrial Statement,” which sets forth the parties’ agreements and disagreements, as well as other information required by Court rules.
At trial, the parties may present an opening statement.  The Petitioner (the party who filed first) presents his/her evidence first.  Each party has a chance to call witnesses, and both parties have the opportunity to question each witness.  The parties generally testify as well.  After the evidence is presented, the Court may allow closing arguments, which are statements summarizing the evidence and the requested rulings.
The Court may rule immediately, or it may take the matter under advisement.  The Judge is allowed to take up to 60 days to rule on the case.
If a party does not like a ruling, the party may be able to challenge the ruling through one of several motions.  The party may also be able to appeal the case to the Court of Appeals.  However, winning an appeal is difficult, especially in family law cases, where the Court have a large amount of discretion in its rulings.
Many people choose to forgo the uncertainty, cost and stress of trial in favor of resolving the dispute themselves with a trained mediator.

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com.  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to serve as legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
a Professional Limited Liability Company
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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