If opposing parties in a family law or divorce case cannot settle all of their issues, the case goes on to a family law trial. Fortunately, only about 5% of family law cases go all the way to trial.
Most family law trials are before a Judge only, which is called a Bench Trial. Divorce cases are always bench trials.
A family law trial involves presenting evidence and witness testimony to give the Judge the information needed to decide the issues in dispute. There are formal procedural rules which govern what and how evidence and testimony are to be given.
A Judge is only allowed to consider evidence that has been presented that follows these rules. A Judge also is not allowed to help parties figure out the rules for themselves. As weird as this may sound, parties representing themselves are held to the same standard as attorneys are, by rule.
If attorneys are involved, a trial will typically be the most labor intensive part of the case. Legal expenses go up dramatically as the trial gets close.
This is part of the reason why many cases settle, because costs start to quickly ramp up at this point.
After a Family Law Trial
After the trial, a Judge has 90 days to make a decision on the issues in dispute. When the Judge does so, it’s through the issuing of a Judgment and Decree. This becomes the divorce decree in a divorce case.
After the Judge’s decision is entered with the court, each party has 60 days if s/he wants to appeal.