In Part 1, we looked at what to do before your first day in court with your Raleigh divorce lawyer. For this final part of the series, we’ll explore what to do for an uncontested divorce and, if contested, what you should do during the divorce hearing.
The Civil Division of the Wake County Courthouse has all the forms you need for an uncontested divorce. You can either retrieve the information packet from their website at http://web.co.wake.nc.us/courts/divorces.html or their office on the 11th floor of the courthouse or on the 1st floor in Room 119. The courthouse charges a $7.00 copy fee for the packet.
It should be noted that what’s available on the website is merely a sample to show you what the forms should look like when you type them up. Of course, a Raleigh divorce lawyer should be able to look over your forms to ensure they comply with the court’s rules or draft them at your direction.
Contested Divorce Hearing
In a contested hearing, after your Raleigh divorce lawyer has presented himself or herself and you to the court and the opposing attorney has done the same, both attorneys will make their opening statements.
The attorney for the plaintiff goes first, followed by the attorney for the defendant. During this time, neither side attempts to present any evidence or call any witnesses. These opening statements are simply a summary of the position your Raleigh divorce lawyer intends to present.
The rest of the trial follows this same order. The plaintiff has the burden of proof, meaning that he or she must offer evidence to prove that the client’s argument is correct. As such, the plaintiff’s attorney goes first in presenting the case, offering evidence in the form of testimonies from witnesses. Once he or she is finished, the defense attorney presents his or her own witnesses and evidence.
Whether you are the plaintiff of the defendant, witness testimony is the process by which your Raleigh divorce lawyer and opposition will ask questions to supply answers that will either support his or her case or undermine the opposition’s argument.
You and your Raleigh divorce lawyer will undoubtedly go over your testimony before court. The best thing to do is to stick to what you discussed beforehand and not improvise or alter your testimony because you think it could help your case. Doing so could harm your chances of success and even lead to a punishment from the court.
After the “direct” questioning from your attorney, the opposing lawyer will do what is called a “cross examination”, in which he or she will attempt to get you to contradict your testimony to weaken your Raleigh divorce lawyer’s argument and strengthen his or her own.
When this happens, it’s important to remember two things: stay calm and stick to your testimony. Some attorneys will try to make you upset and/or get you to say something extreme that will hurt your case. Your Raleigh divorce lawyer will go over this with your before court to help make sure that this doesn’t happen, but you may need to remind yourself of this when you’re in the thick of it.
Once both sides have presented their evidence, each attorney will make a closing statement. The court may make a decision that day or may announce it at a later period. Once the judge signs off on the decision, it becomes finalized. Your Raleigh divorce lawyer will then help you understand what this means and what you’ll need to do next.