In some divorce cases, no matter how much the parties do their best to try to work together to resolve disputes, difficulties and disagreements remain. Perhaps the parties simply cannot agree on who will be the primary custodian of their children, or perhaps both have a strong connection to their family home. When a certain issue or multiple issues keep the parties from reaching a marital settlement agreement, a divorce trial is usually the only way to definitively resolve disputes. At Reddin & Singer, Milwaukee divorce lawyer Terese J. Singer is ready to advocate vigorously for you throughout this process.Divorce Trials in Wisconsin
In many ways, a divorce trial is just like any other trial in which individuals might participate within the Wisconsin courts. Each party gets the opportunity to present their evidence, and then a decision is made about who wins on each issue, or claim, that arises.
Divorce trials have some important distinctions, however. First, unlike with civil litigation or criminal cases, divorce trials do not involve a jury. A jury does not decide who gets custody of children or who must make maintenance payments to whom. Instead, a judge decides all of these issues. Second, unlike a civil trial, in which the judge will typically hear from only the plaintiff and the defendant, the judge may hear not only from each spouse involved but also from an independent guardian ad litem, who presents information about what may be best for a child in a divorce. This brings some additional complexity to Wisconsin divorce proceedings.The Structure of Trials
A trial is essentially the presentation of evidence to a judge. Each party will have the opportunity to present his or her case to the judge and ask the judge to rule in accordance with what that individual wants. Presenting a case typically includes presenting the testimony of the spouse himself or herself, the testimony of important witnesses, relevant documents, and possibly even expert testimony regarding issues such as property valuation.
Evidentiary rules govern the trial process. These rules ensure that both parties play fair and prevent parties from doing things like attempting to “surprise” the other party with previously undisclosed evidence, or using the trial as an opportunity to make disparaging remarks against each other. In addition to presenting evidence, each party will also have the opportunity to question the evidence provided by their spouse. This is done through a process known as cross examination, which allows for each party to ask questions to the other party’s witnesses (usually through attorneys).
If either party believes that the other is doing something inappropriate, such as attempting to use questionable evidence or lie about a situation, he or she can request that such evidence be kept out of the trial or that it be given minimal weight by the judge. Since divorce cases do not deal with juries, and there is not the risk of prejudicing a jury, judges will often allow most of the evidence to be entered and considered, but they will decide how much weight to give it, if any, in light of the other party’s concerns or objections.
After the judge has heard all of the evidence from both parties, the judge will consider everything that has been presented and make a ruling on the details of the divorce. If either party believes that there is some sort of egregious error in how the judge has ruled, this issue may be brought to the judge’s attention, but generally the ruling will not change. Unlike in mediation, after a trial, it does not matter whether the parties like the final outcome – it is the outcome that must be followed unless one of the parties is successful in an appeal.Explore Your Options with a Milwaukee Lawyer
If you believe that your divorce case is headed toward a likely trial, it is important that you find a divorce attorney who is experienced in the courtroom and knows how to handle trial procedures and trial advocacy on your behalf. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, we have decades of experience in guiding Milwaukee residents through the divorce trial process and can answer any questions, financial or personal, that you may have. We represent people in Milwaukee, Racine, West Bend, Mequon, Waukesha, and elsewhere in Milwaukee, Racine, Washington, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties. For a free consultation, contact our office at (414) 271-6400 or online.