A client can help a divorce attorney in Huntsville, or wherever you live, prepare for motions or trial by giving them the right information before the court proceeding so the attorney can do a good job. Providing information may consist of:
- Gathering appropriate documents, including bills relating to shared assets, information for bank accounts and assets that might be hidden.
- Meeting the couple’s child, to fully understand whether a child should be a witness and have a deposition taken. Meeting other witnesses before a hearing is also critical. The Birmingham divorce attorney needs to see the value of their testimony.
- Visiting places that will be covered in the hearing or trial, such as the family business that the client helped build. The client may want the attorney to visit on a day they are working at their regular position at the business. That way the attorney can see the value of the client’s contributions.
- Explaining the history behind certain documents, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. If a client signed an agreement under extreme stress, they need to share what the other party did to put them under stress. They need to share why they felt the agreements were fundamentally unfair.
Pretrial and post-trial motions
Pretrial motions are often made to ensure parties are in agreement on critical matters prior to trial. Pretrial motions typically cover:
- money, for child support and/or temporary alimony until the divorce is final; and
- child custody, to work out an arrangement for the child to spend time with parents equally before the trial; and
- visitation, to ensure the visiting parent gets to spend time with the child and set terms for the child’s safety; and
- housing, vehicles, and other assets, to determine who should live where, how the parties can use vehicles, and what property needs to be sold to generate cash.
Pretrial motions may also be utilized to set the stage for trial. A party may make a motion to suppress or otherwise limit evidence to be admitted in trial. For example, one spouse may argue that an expert witness’s testimony is unreliable and should be inadmissible. The witness is not really an expert. The parties may hold a hearing on this matter, so the court makes a decision about the extent of the witness’s knowledge before an attorney introduces the witness to the jury. The court’s decision helps the two sides plan their trial strategies better.
Motions made after trial typically address unfavorable rulings. A party may make a motion if circumstances change. For example, if the person paying alimony loses their job, they cannot pay the same amount. That person will request to lower the alimony payment until they find another job. Since this is not a cheap and easy divorce, like an uncontested divorce, there are hearings and motions involved to deal with.
An appeal is different from a standard post trial motion. An appeal may address a single issue like property division or multiple issues, such as child custody, alimony, and the division of a family business. An appeal usually seeks to undo the trial court’s ruling because that court made an error of law.
An appeal may be successful if the trial court did not follow the rules of civil procedure. A party must file an appeal within 42 days of the trial court’s order. A divorce court is heard by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Montgomery. There are five judges that sit on this court. All five judges will review the appeal.
A client can help their divorce attorney prepare for an appeal by reviewing the record of the trial and sharing information that supports the appeal. For example, the client may have noticed that the judge did not allow several key pieces of evidence to be admitted during the trial. This mistake may have caused the jury to award the other spouse a greater portion of the couple’s assets.
The client and the divorce attorney in Montgomery should go over the record of the trial to figure out when the problem occurred and how the judge may have deviated from standard civil procedure. The client should read over the attorney’s appeal. This helps them make sure that the appeal contains all the relevant information, and the attorney is making the argument in the best way possible.
An appeal is not always the end of a divorce case. Yet a ruling on it is more final than the ruling of the trial court. The client may not have another shot shortly after the trial to address the fact that the trial court made a mistake.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!