In Arizona, “Trials” take place in front of a judge, not a jury. This will occur after all of the “Discovery” has taken place. And after all attempts to negotiate a “Marital Settlement Agreement/Consent Decree” have failed. Most trials will only last one day, but they can last longer if there are complex business issues involved, or complex Child Custody issues involved. During the trial in front of the judge (i.e., a “Bench Trial”) the judge will hear all of the evidence and testimony, and then will issue a “final judgment” in the form of a “Decree of Dissolution.”
The person who filed the “Petition for Dissolution” is known as the “Petitioner.” They will proceed first and they will present evidence from witnesses in the form of “direct examination.” The “Respondent” (i.e., the other spouse) is allowed to “cross examine” the Petitioner’s witnesses (usually through their attorney). After this occurs, the Petitioner’s attorney can then conduct what is known as “re-direct examination” and can follow up on any issues raised during cross examination. After all the Petitioner’s witnesses go through this process, then the Respondent presents their own witnesses. The direct, cross and re-direct process takes place all over again. The burden of proof to be determined by the judge is “Preponderance of the Evidence.” This means that one side must merely tip the scales beyond 50% to win that particular issue.
During trials, it is not uncommon for one side or the other to “object” to various testimony and/or evidence. If no objections are made, then this evidence will be admitted, and will become part of the record for “Appeal” in Arizona.
At The Cantor Law Group, the attorneys are highly trained in trial matters and know how to “make a record.” If objections are not made, those issues are forfeited forever. Because of our extensive trial knowledge, The Cantor Law Group is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, and is AV® rated (the highest possible rating) by Martindale Hubbell®. If a law firm does not have these two highest ratings, there is a reason for that. You should always use the best lawyers when dealing with your future.
Once all evidence has been presented to the judge, then each side can present a “closing argument”. The Petitioner’s attorney will argue first, then the Respondent’s attorney, and finally the Petitioner’s attorney gets the last word (since they brought the action). The judge will decide whether the case has been made by a preponderance of the evidence. Normally, the judge will not rule on the spot but will instead take a case “Under Advisement”, and will rule in writing several weeks later. Keep in mind, a judge is allowed to take up to 60 days to issue their ruling by way of “Final Judgment” and “Decree of Dissolution.”
Also see Motion for a New Trial
Contact us or call The Cantor Law Group at (602)254-8880 immediately for a free initial consultation designed to provide helpful information regarding a “Trial” as it applies to your individual situation.