In most divorce cases, the spouses reach some settlement either through informal negotiations or through more formal proceedings like collaborative law or mediation. However is some divorce cases, settlement is not possible mainly because the spouses do not see eye to eye on most issues of the divorce such as custody, support and property division. In such cases, the family court will handle the divorce and decide on the issues. The petition must be filed in the family or civil court having jurisdiction over the spouses. The trial is presided by as single judge but either one or both parties can request a jury trial.
Evidence and Arguments
Like in any civil case, each party presents their respective evidences and forwards their arguments on the various issues of the divorce. Evidence is generally in the form of:
• Individual testimony of the spouses
• Testimony of witnesses such as children and expert witnesses
• Documents including documents to title and property records
Both sides can cross examine each other and the witnesses of the other party. A party has the right to challenge any evidence put forth by the other side.
The Judge (or the Jury) will pass the final judgment after hearing both parties. Once the judgment is passed, the judge will grant the divorce. The judgment will contain the court’s decision on all the issues of the divorce. The judgment will list out the rights and obligations of the parties post divorce including:
• Children – custody, visitation and living arrangements
• Property – division of marital property, assets and debts
• Support – who pays support (alimony and child support) and how much