What Happens If the Divorce Case Goes to Trial in Arizona?
The court will issue orders before trial requiring each party to submit their exhibits to the judge’s clerk before trial and requiring the parties to file a Joint Pretrial Statement. The Joint Pretrial Statement will list the issues to be addressed in your divorce at trial, as well as the witnesses and exhibits that will be used at trial, among other things.
It is important to include every issue in your Joint Pretrial Statement, or you may waive the right to present evidence on any unlisted issues at trial. You should read our summary of the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the Leathers v. Leathers case discussing a party’s waiver of a matter because it was not listed in the Joint Pretrial Statement.
You should be aware; however, there are many exceptions to the ruling in the Leathers v. Leathers case that center upon obligations the trial court is required by law to rule on. For example, the Arizona Supreme Court in the Hays v. Gama case held the Leathers case did not apply to issues about child custody or parenting time.
That decision reasoned that a trial court is required by law to determine which child custody arrangements are in the best interest of children, so a judge may not limit the introduction of relevant and admissible evidence on issues about children. Other cases also distinguish Leathers as well.
On the day of your trial, you will be seated at your table before the judge entering the courtroom. The judge will enter the courtroom, and the bailiff will tell everyone in the courtroom to “please rise”. The judge will sit down at which point he or she will tell everyone they may be seated.
The judge will then typically ask if any agreements have been reached between the parties and, if so, those agreements will be shared with the judge on the record.
The bailiff will then identify all witnesses in the courtroom and will have all witnesses sworn under oath. The judge will then tell the Petitioner to explain his or her case in an “opening statement” and begin the presentation of his or her witnesses.
After Petitioner questions each witness (i.e., Direct Examination), the other party will have an opportunity to ask questions of the same witness (i.e., Cross Examination), the Petitioner will then have the opportunity to ask another round of questions to address issues raised in the questions asked by the Respondent (i.e., Redirect Examination).
This process continues until the Petitioner completes questioning all of his or her witnesses at which time he or she will “rest” their case. The Respondent will then begin his or her case in the same order of Direct Examination, Cross Examination by the other party, and then Redirect Examination by the Respondent.
The parties will then present a Closing Argument summarizing the evidence presented, apply the facts of the case to the applicable law, and argue why their position should be adopted as the orders of the court.
The judge will then either rule on the issues or may announce he or she will take the matter under advisement to issue a ruling sometime after that. A trial judge is required by the Arizona Constitution to issue a decision within sixty (60) days of the date of your trial.
The judge has the authority to restore a spouse to her maiden name at the time he or she signs the final Divorce Decree. The court’s order constitutes an official name change for that spouse.
Contact Our Scottsdale Arizona Divorce Attorneys
If you are in need of a divorce lawyer in Arizona, the family law firm of Hildebrand Law, PC is only a phone call away. Our attorneys handle all types of divorce cases in Arizona. Please call (480)305-8300 if you wish to speak with our Arizona divorce lawyers or have additional questions regarding Arizona divorce laws.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about what happens if a divorce goes to trial in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.