Calendar Call & Trial

It literally took months, but you finally made it through the discovery process.  Now, the only hurdles standing between you and the finish line of your contested divorce are the “Calendar Call” and the “Trial.”

What is a Calendar Call?  What happens at the Calendar Call?  Do I need to file anything before the Calendar Call?  What is the Trial?  What happens at the Trial?  Will I be divorced at the end of the Trial?

What Is A Calendar Call?

A Calendar Call is a brief procedural hearing held shortly before Trial.  The Judge will not make any final decisions about property, debts, alimony, or child custody at the Calendar Call.

What Happens At The Calendar Call?

At the Calendar Call, the Judge will confirm with the parties’ attorneys that they are ready to proceed to Trial as scheduled.  The Judge will also ask if they have reached any agreements for the purposes of admitting or excluding evidence and simplifying the issues to be tried.  In addition, the Judge will verify that they have exchanged final lists of exhibits and witnesses to be used at Trial.

Do I Need To File Anything Before The Calendar Call?

Each party is required to file a Pretrial Memo at least 10 business days before the Calendar Call.  Failure to file a Pretrial Memo may result in the Judge delaying or cancelling the Trial.

The Pretrial Memo helps the Judge prepare for Trial.  It provides a clear and concise snapshot of the resolved and unresolved issues in the case, and tells the Judge exactly how each party wants the unresolved issues decided.

What Is The Trial?

The Trial is the final and most important hearing in the contested divorce process.  It is when the Judge makes final decisions about all the unresolved issues in the case, including child custody, child support, property, debt, and alimony.  Depending on the number and complexity of the unresolved issues in the case, the Trial may last a few hours or span multiple days.

What Happens At The Trial?

At the Trial, each party will make their respective case to the Judge through the orderly presentation of properly disclosed evidence.  Evidence consists of exhibits and witness testimony.

Any tangible thing can be marked and offered as an Exhibit, provided it is relevant to the issues at hand.  Exhibits come in a wide variety of forms, such as documents, photos, text messages, videos, and audio-recordings.  Depending on the issues at hand, expert witnesses, such as psychologists or forensic accountants, may need to testify.

Absent some extraordinary circumstance, the Judge will not consider exhibits which were not exchanged with the opposing party during discovery, and will not allow testimony from witnesses who were not similarly disclosed.

At the Trial, each party has the opportunity to offer exhibits into evidence, to present witness testimony, to cross-examine the opposing party’s witnesses, and to object to the admission of the opposing party’s exhibits and witness testimony.  Each party also has the opportunity to provide the Judge with an introductory “opening” statement and a conclusory “closing” statement.

At the end of the Trial, the Judge will either immediately announce his or her final decisions or take the case under advisement to further consider the evidence before making their final decisions.  If the case is taken under advisement, the Judge may issue his or her final decisions in writing or may set another hearing to announce them.

Will I Be Divorced At The End Of The Trial?

Although the Judge may orally declare the parties divorced at the end of the Trial, they are not actually divorced until the final written Decree Of Divorce is signed by the Judge and filed with the Court.

Conclusion

The Trial is the most important event in the contested divorce process.  The simple failure to attend the Calendar Call or file a Pretrial Memo may result in a the delay or cancellation of Trial.

The Trial is each party’s opportunity to convince the Judge to make a decision in his or her favor based on the quality of the evidence presented.  Exhibits must be carefully admitted and objected to.  Witnesses must be strategically examined and cross-examined.

Don’t risk handling the Trial on your own.  Call our experienced Divorce and Child Custody attorneys today.