What Happens When a Divorce Goes to Trial?

what happens when a divorce goes to trial

Going through a divorce is a challenging process. It can become even more complicated if your divorce case goes to trial. A divorce trial is a formal legal procedure where a judge makes decisions about issues that could not be resolved through negotiation or mediation. 

This article will explore what happens when a divorce goes to trial and what you can expect during the legal process.

6 Steps Before Preparing for a Divorce Trial

As you face the possibility of your divorce proceeding to trial, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions and uncertainties. Understanding the steps involved and being well-prepared can significantly affect the outcome of your divorce proceedings.

Before your divorce trial begins, there’s a considerable amount of preparation involved. This includes gathering all necessary documents and evidence to support your case. Let’s see what other things to consider.

Read more, What Is The Difference Between Annulment And Divorce

Legal Representation

Having legal representation is crucial during a divorce trial. You and your spouse will likely each have your own lawyer to present your cases. Your lawyer will guide you through the legal process. They will help you prepare your case and advocate for your interests in court.

So, before anything else, schedule a comprehensive meeting with your lawyer. Your lawyer will be very important in guiding you through the trial process. Discuss your concerns, questions, and objectives openly with them. Together, you will strategize your approach, clarify your goals, and identify evidence to support your case.

Court Proceedings

The divorce trial usually takes place in a courtroom and is typically open to the public. Certain proceedings may be closed for privacy reasons. Both parties present their evidence and arguments to the judge during the trial. Here’s what typically happens during a divorce trial:

  • Opening Statements: Each lawyer makes an opening statement to introduce their case. They provide an overview of what they will present during the trial.
  • Presentation of Evidence: Both parties will present their evidence, including documents, testimonies from witnesses, and other relevant information. This may involve cross-examination of witnesses and expert testimony.
  • Witness Testimonies: Witnesses can include friends, family members, financial experts, or anyone with relevant information. Both lawyers will ask them questions to support their respective cases.
  • Legal Arguments: Lawyers will make legal arguments based on the evidence presented. They will explain how the law applies to the specific facts of your case and why the judge should rule in favour of their client.
  • Closing Arguments: Each lawyer will make a closing argument. They will summarize their case and why their client’s position is more justified under the law.

A Decision by the Judge

After both parties have presented their cases, the judge will carefully consider the evidence, legal arguments, and relevant laws. It’s important to remember that the judge’s decision is final. They will make decisions on all the unresolved issues in your divorce, which may include:

  • Property Division:  Ensure that the property division outlined in the decree is carried out as specified. This may involve transferring property titles, closing joint accounts, or selling assets. Fulfill these obligations to avoid legal disputes and further complications. The judge will determine how to divide marital property and assets, taking factors like each spouse’s contributions and financial circumstances.
  • Child Custody: If you have children, the judge will decide custody, visitation, and parenting arrangements. The court will prioritize the children’s best interests when making these decisions. 
  • Child Support: The judge will calculate child support based on the state’s guidelines and the financial information provided during the trial. Effective communication and cooperation with your ex-spouse are essential for the well-being of your children. Stick to the agreed-upon schedule and remain flexible when necessary, prioritizing your children’s needs.
  • Spousal Support: If applicable, the judge will decide whether one spouse should pay alimony to the other and the amount and duration of those payments.
  • Legal Fees: The judge may also decide how legal fees and court costs should be divided between the spouses.

Finalizing the Divorce

Once the judge has made all necessary decisions, they will issue a final divorce decree. It outlines the terms of the divorce. This decree is legally binding, and both parties must comply with it. It is essential to review the decree carefully and ensure that you understand and can follow its terms.

Post-Trial Options

If you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, you may have the option to appeal. However, appealing a divorce decision can be a complex and lengthy process. It is crucial to consult with your lawyer to understand your chances of success and the potential consequences of pursuing an appeal.

Emotional and Financial Impact

Divorce trials can be emotionally and financially draining. It can be stressful and lengthy, often leading to increased legal fees and ongoing conflict between spouses. It’s essential to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate the emotional challenges that may arise during this time.

Moreover, the financial impact of a divorce trial can be significant. Legal fees, court costs, and potential changes in financial circumstances due to property division and support orders can have a long-lasting effect on your financial stability. Working closely with your lawyer to manage these financial implications and plan for your post-divorce future is crucial.

Read more, The Difference Between Separation And Divorce

In a Nutshell

While going through a divorce trial is not ideal, it is sometimes necessary when spouses cannot reach an agreement on key issues. Identifying what to expect during a divorce trial can help you prepare and understand the process more effectively. 

The decisions made by the judge may have a lasting impact on your life. Therefore, it’s essential to approach the trial with careful preparation and the guidance of experienced legal counsel. 

So, suppose you are facing a divorce trial. In that case, it is always advisable to consult a qualified lawyer to help you protect your interests and proceed for a fair resolution.


What does it mean for a divorce to go to trial?

When a divorce goes to trial, the parties cannot reach a mutually acceptable agreement through negotiation or mediation. In such cases, a judge presides over the proceedings, listens to both parties’ arguments, and makes decisions on asset division, child custody, and alimony.

What can I expect during a divorce trial?

During a divorce trial, each party and their respective lawyers present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses before a judge. The judge will then decide on contentious issues like property division, child custody, and support. It’s a formal legal process involving cross-examination, legal arguments, and detailed examinations of financial records.

How long does a divorce trial typically last?

The duration of a divorce trial can vary significantly based on the case’s complexity, the number of contested issues, and the court’s schedule. Some trials may last only a day or two, while more complex cases can extend over several weeks or even months. Preparing for a potentially lengthy and emotionally taxing process is essential when a divorce goes to trial.

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Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Chinese Lawyer Vancouver for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.