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Steps Can You Expect to Follow in a Divorce Lawsuit (Step 5: Final Trial)

If divorce mediation fails to facilitate a settlement between the two spouses, the only option left is to go trial.

Under the Texas Family Code, a trial is a final hearing that authorizes the court to make decisions on how to dissolve the marriage, how the couple’s estate will be divided, as well as who gets custody and/or visitation rights among other things. At this stage of the divorce proceedings, you and your attorney have limited control over the outcome of your case; the judge or jury will have the final objective say on how things turn out.

This uncertainty is why Texas divorce attorneys will tell you that settling out of court is the better option, as it gives you and your spouse the ability to customize the final order without involving the court.

How Common Are Texas Divorce Trials?

Not at all. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of divorce cases make it to a final trial. The vast majority of cases are resolved out of court because it’s faster, easier, and finally, less expensive for all parties.

Settlements usually involve cases with a lot at stake, such as large estates and/or child custody, mainly because the attorneys handling these cases have informed parties have been informed their clients that going to trial would put far too much at risk.

But settlements are sometimes out of the question, which is why a reliable Texas family law attorney should always be ready to go trial at any moment’s notice. When one party refuses to act rationally or the circumstances and issues surrounding to the divorce make it impossible for the spouses to find common ground, the case may end up in trial.

Preparing for a Divorce Trial in Texas

Should the divorce end up in trial, a Texas court will assign a trial date, by which time the case will probably have been pending for more than a few months. This will give your divorce attorney enough time to prepare for the trial, organize evidence, and create a plan for presenting this information to the court. If you have witnesses who will testify, they will have to be prepared and well-rehearsed for the hearing.

You have two options when going to a divorce trial in Texas:

  • Doing it in front of a judge
  • Doing it in front of a jury

Jury trials are more expensive, and some attorneys with clients who can afford a jury will use this option to force the other party to give up. Ethical or not, the Court does not prohibit this strategy.

In contrast, leaving the decision to the judge means your attorney will have to anticipate the judge’s biases and record of ruling over divorce cases.

There is a lot of debate over which option is better, but ultimately it depends on your particular situation. If anything, this dilemma raises the importance of consulting an experienced Texas divorce attorney.

What Happens During the Divorce Trial?

Like any other trial, the Petitioner has the burden of proof, which means their side must present enough evidence to prove their stance in the divorce proceedings. The Respondent will then present their own case, usually to discredit the Petitioner’s evidence and position. The Petitioner may be given the opportunity to challenge the Respondent’s evidence with additional evidence. This process can go back and forth several times, depending on the court.

Once both parties have presented their evidence, the judge or jury will review and consider all information before rendering a decision. At most, this usually takes a few days.

For more information about this step of the divorce process in Texas, get in touch with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.

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