Perhaps you attempted to settle your case and at the last minute there was no agreement and the frustrated judge or attorneys decided to set a trial date just in case. Or perhaps there has never been the hopes of an agreement and you have been anxiously waiting for your trial date and a finality to your divorce. Whatever the case may be, it is important to keep in mind some relevant rules and deadlines that could make or break your case at trial.
The judge is likely to set certain deadlines for witness and exhibit lists. It is important not to miss those deadlines as any documents or witnesses not disclosed by those deadlines will be barred from being introduced at trial. Make sure you think long and hard about what issues may arise at trial so that you can anticipate any relevant witnesses or documents that you may need. If, for example, two days before the trial date you determined your spouse makes so much more money than you and you had to forego career opportunities to raise your children and would like to request maintenance from your ex, it is probably too late to do that if the request was not made in a prior pleading and none of those issues were raised at a pretrial. If you feel you need an expert witness, it is important to disclose this witness in a timely manner or your witness may be barred.
It is also important to think about what documents you will need to prove your case. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, then we will need to subpoena his bank records to see what if any transfers are made to other banks. Results to subpoenas take time to obtain especially if it is a long time frame. As a result, this issue cannot be brought up to your attorney one week before trial.
You may also want to consider taking the opposing party’s deposition, that means that everyone sits in a room with a court reporter and the only one missing is the judge. The parties then have the opportunity to question the other party about issues in the case. A party’s deposition can greatly affect your case as you are aware beforehand what the parties testimony will be. Furthermore, if you ask the same question in court and the party changes his or her answer, you can impeach that party’s testimony with the deposition transcript. However, a deposition can be costly as you will likely pay for three hours or your attorney time, plus preparation time, and the court reporter and transcript. If this is something you want done, it is important to inform your attorney sooner rather than later.
As a result, if your case has been set for trial, talk to your attorney immediately so both of you can plan and strategize about the issues in your case before it’s too late.