There are entire movies about the courtroom drama of legal trials during divorce, but they aren’t as common as you may think. Many couples choose to settle some or all of their disputes outside of the courtroom because they want a faster resolution or more flexibility in dividing their assets.
Going to court still happens in many splits, though. However, like most other states, California does not hold jury trials for divorce cases. Instead, these disputes are settled at bench trials, where a judge decides the matters at hand without the presence of a jury. Let’s break down how bench trials work for California divorces.
When Do Trials Happen for Divorces?
The California court system encourages couples to settle divorce disputes whenever possible. These settlements are often reached through alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and collaborative law. The goal is to work with your spouse and your attorneys to decide how you’ll split assets, award spousal support, and handle child custody.
But what happens if some issues can’t be solved through negotiation? For example, what if your spouse refuses to compromise on a matter that would seriously hurt your finances? That’s when couples need to go to court for divorce litigation.
Even then, a full trial may not be necessary. It’s possible to have individual issues settled through hearings rather than trial. If you only have one or two issues that need a judge’s attention, you can submit a Request for Order to schedule these individual hearings.
If hearings are not enough, though, you can go to trial. Your attorney will help you request a trial and perform all the preparation necessary to argue your case in court. This includes submitting financial disclosures, attending a settlement conference, conducting discovery, and preparing your testimony.
It’s important to note that if you go to trial, you have much less control over the outcome of your divorce. The judge’s ruling is typically final. You cannot appeal the ruling unless you can demonstrate that they violated the law in your decree.
How to Choose the Best Legal Path for Your Split
Ideally, every split would be settled without going to court. However, that’s not always possible. If you may need to litigate your split, you should talk to an experienced California divorce litigation attorney. Lawyers like those at the Viola Law Firm P.C. can help determine whether you need a hearing or a bench trial for your divorce. Our team has successfully litigated divorces for many clients, helping them achieve better outcomes in court. Learn more about how we can help you with your divorce trial by scheduling your consultation today.