Always Prepare for Trial?
Most divorce, child custody and family law cases settle but your attorney still needs to prepare for trial, especially when there are complex issues of property division and in high stakes modification cases. The cases we think are the most likely to settle can be interrupted by factors beyond your control. Why do attorneys focus energy on being ready for trial if the issues involved may be resolved by agreement and settled short of trial? Because not being ready and prepared is like shooting yourself in the foot.
Many experienced divorce lawyers agree that not preparing for trial, regardless of your case is malpractice. Even though it looks like there is going to be a set of agreements and the matter will settle, anything can happen in high conflict cases.
For example, everything can be going fine in negotiating a settlement agreement on contested issues and something happens to the other lawyer. Assuming your opposing party hires a new attorney to represent them, you cannot assume the new lawyer will be on the same page about settlement options.
Strategy on Proving Your Case from Day One
From the beginning of a divorce, custody or Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), your attorney must plan how to prove the allegations made in your case. The evidence necessary to prove allegations may include documents, transcripts and testimony
The trial for which we must prepare might be a trial to the judge or before a jury. When a jury is involved, there presentation of evidence may be different based on our strategy.
Discovery of Information for Trial
At Scroggins Law Group, when we file a motion for discovery, we know what they we are looking for and how to find the information that can be used as evidence to prepare for trial or settle the case.
There are six main types of discovery used in divorce and family court proceedings including interrogatories, requests for production of and inspection of documents, requests for admissions, depositions, subpoenas and mental and physical examinations.
Organizing Discovery, Being Ready to Use at Trial
As the opposing counsel sends us discovery responses, our trial attorneys and paralegals work together to measure what information we have, what we still need and how to establish we did everything possible to have all the information necessary, especially when we know the other side refuses to acknowledge or share certain documents and information.
Preparing Evidence and Exhibits for Trial
While some activities in preparing for trial are standard, there are some creative strategies in establishing alleged facts as true and applying them to the law. This can require the use of documents in trial, as they are offered into evidence. It may take several steps to establish something as a fact and have that fact be accepted into evidence where it can be given the weight and credibility needed to accomplish our strategy for you.
Pretrial Evidence Motions and Hearings?
There are times that certain information should be excluded, especially in a jury trial. Whether the trial for which we are preparing is a bench trial or jury trial, it may be necessary to limit the admissibility of certain pieces of evidence. A pre-trial motion to limit specific materials may be necessary to protect clients and their best interests.
Winning a pretrial evidence motion can be very useful as leverage. When your opponent knows you are in a better position and ready to go to court, they might be quicker to settle, another reason to prepare for trial.
Being Ready to Win at Trial, Better Settlement Offers
Trial preparation can also be a strategic advantage in obtaining favorable settlement offers. When all else is near agreement and there are one or two key issues of conflict, it is appropriate to say, No, that is not acceptable, and we are ready for trial.
Does the opposing counsel think we are bluffing or are really prepared to haul our boxes of documents to court and have a trial? The readier for trial we are, the more they might be approaching a state of panic.
New Attorneys on the Case and their Preparation for Trial
It can be difficult to manage expectations when your opposing party fires or loses their attorney and someone new comes on the case. You can assume the new attorney needs to get caught up to speed and that takes time. Also assume the new attorney wants to do their own work in preparing to represent their client.
It depends on every judge and the situation at hand whether your judge is going to continue the case and or delay a scheduled trial simply because a new attorney appears in the case. Sometimes this is done as a method to thwart progress and catch others off guard. Ideally judges see that coming from a mile away.
Scroggins Law Group Trial Attorneys are Ready
To prepare for trial is to know your client, their case and evidence inside and out. Mark L. Scroggins has completed many trials and that is a pre-requisite to being allowed to sit for the exam he passed to claim Board-Certification in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Click here to read Why Choose Board Certified by the TBLS.
When you need aggressive Dallas divorce lawyers ready to go to bat for you and fight to win a divorce, custody or other family law trial, choose Scoggins Law Group, LLC in Dallas, serving Dallas, Collin and Denton Counties. Call today to schedule your confidential consultation, (214) 469-3100.
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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