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Running Out of Time During a Family Law Trial in Arizona

Running Out of Time During a Family Law Trial in Arizona

Family law and divorce trials in Arizona are already stressful. They are stressful on the parties in the case. They are stressful to the witnesses in the case and they are stressful on the attorneys handling the trial.

This stress only becomes compounded when you fear you are running out of time to present all of your evidence during a family law trial in Arizona, such as a divorce trial.

So, what should you do if you find yourself running out of time during a family law trial in Arizona? Fortunately, the Arizona Court of Appeals provides the answer to that very daunting question.

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What to Do if You Run Out of Time During a Family Law or Divorce Trial in Arizona

The Arizona Court of Appeals in the unpublished case of Michaels vs. Shimo dealt with that precise issue. In the Michaels case, the mother ran out of time during the scheduled trial and, as a result, was not allowed to cross-examine Father before conclusion of that family law trial.

The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Michaels case cited a prior court of appeals decision in the case of Gamboa vs. Metzler that dealt with the issue of a party being prevented from submitting additional evidence because that party ran out of time during a trial.

In the Gamboa case, the plaintiff ran out of time during cross examination of a defense witness at the end of the trial. The plaintiff objected to his cross-examination of the witness being cut short because his time to question witnesses had run out.

However, other than making that simple objection, the plaintiff did not ask the court to add more time to the trial, did not attempt to make an offer of proof of what the expected evidence would show if more time for trial was granted, and did not attempt to establish how he would suffer prejudice by not being allowed more time to present that evidence.

Time Constraints in a Family Law Trial Impact Your Constitutional Right to Due Process

The plaintiff argued he was not afforded due process by the court when his cross-examination was cut short. The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Gamboa case started its analysis by pointing out the applicable court rules allow a judge to “exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence.”

So, the court is recognizing a trial judge may pose reasonable time constraints on parties participating in a trial, so long as those time constraints are reasonable. Citing the prior decision in the case of Brown v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., the appellate court stated rigid time limits are not favored and time limits for a trial should be flexible to allow for adjustments during a trial.

You Must Object and Ask the Judge for More Time

The Court of Appeals also took note the plaintiff failed to ask the trial judge for additional time for the trial; implying the plaintiff may have waived his argument over the issue by not only objecting to his cross-examination being cut short but also asking the court for additional time for trial to do so.

You Must Explain to the Judge How You Will Suffer Prejudice if More Time for Trial is Not Allowed

The Court of Appeals also took note the plaintiff was required to demonstrate he or she suffered some harm as a result of the time constraints placed on the trial. Citing the appellate decision in the Brown case, the court of appeals also noted that the plaintiff bore the responsibility to prove he or she suffered prejudice as a necessary element of preserving a due process claim.

You Must Make an Offer of Proof to the Judge When Asking for More Time for Trial

The court of appeals then cited to the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Towery in which the Supreme Court indicated “at a minimum, the complaining party must make an offer of proof stating with reasonable specificity what the evidence would have shown” if additional time was provided to a party.

So, if you are running out of time during a family law trial in Arizona, you must object to being cut short, you must request additional time be allowed for the trial, you must tell the judge what the evidence would show if additional time was granted, and you must demonstrate why you will suffer prejudice if that additional time is not granted; thereby violating your constitutional right to due process.

Contact Us About Your Family Law Trial

If you have questions about running out of time during a divorce trial in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce and family law cases.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Lawyers, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your divorce or family law case around today.

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