The Family Law Trial

By Orlando Family Law Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias

Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011

If Mediation Fails, A Trial Follows

Empty courthroom

Despite the best efforts of mediators and attorneys to settle their divorce cases, trials are sometimes necessary. Whether the differences are a result of stubbornness, or the disputes are by nature, intractable, every litigant has the right to proceed to a trial. This is not a comprehensive review of the trial process, but her are some helpful insights for the family law client who is facing a trial:

Only The Judge Makes The Final Ruling In a Family Law Trial

Unlike other civil and criminal trials, which mostly feature juries, family law trials exclusively rely on judges to make the final rulings. When you are preparing for trial with your family law attorney, you should ask him or her about your judge’s tendencies and inclinations. Of course, having an experienced family law attorney helps in this matter.

Much of statutory family law, particularly parenting issues, require subjective interpretation. And judges, like all of us, have personal beliefs and perspectives that they apply to their cases. Knowing these will help you immensely in your trial preparation.

Keep Your Testimony To The Essential Facts

Clients of family attorneys should realize that judges strictly adhere to their schedules. Cluttering their judge's time with superfluous evidence or testimony increases the risk of a continuation of the trial, so stick to the relevant facts. Before the trial, I explain to my clients the essential facts that we are trying to establish, and the testimony and evidence we will use towards those ends. Anything else just distracts from these goals.

Clients often tell me “the judge needs to hear this!” Actually, in many instances, the judge does not need to hear whatever outdated or irrelevant grievance you have against your spouse. In fact, evidence that does not tend to prove a material fact is legally irrelevant, and therefore, inadmissible. Also, unlike a jury of your peers, the judge has “heard this all before” and does not want to needlessly lengthen the trial.

Just Answer With The Facts During Cross Examination

If you are a in a family court trial, you can expect to be cross-examined by the opposing attorney. During the cross-examination, the opposing attorney will ask you questions that seem hostile. Often, their questions are thinly veiled arguments. Your instincts will tell you to “fight back” by either arguing with the attorney, or presenting extraneous information. You must avoid these temptations.

All of my clients are reminded repeatedly to neither argue with the opposing attorney, or present our case during their cross-examination. By doing either of these, you virtually guarantee that you will offer inconsistent testimony and even annoy the judge. Remember, the judge makes the ruling.

Before the family court trial, I instruct my clients that my direct examination of them will allow them to present our case in a natural and compelling manner. In contrast, you should only provide the bare minimum amount of information to the opposing attorney during your cross-examination. Do not educate or engage in a debate with him or her.

Call Us For An Initial Consultation

If you need experienced representation by a family lawyer, call me, attorney Eduardo J. Mejias at 407-260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation. At the consultation I will listen to your explanation the questions that you need resolved, give you a realistic assessment of what I can do for your and outline a plan of legal actions to achieve it.  For more information on attorney fees, including the ranges of fees applicable to each type of family law case go to Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.

I will also quote you my lawyer retention fee. This is almost always a fixed or flat amount that you will be informed about before you make any payment or sign any contract, not an unpredictable hourly rate.  

To find more information on Family Law topics, please go to the Articles section.