Just the thought of walking into a courtroom is enough to make most people’s hair stand on end. When we talk with clients, they often want to know what to expect when it comes to court hearings. It’s a great question. Here’s what types of court hearings you can expect in your North Carolina divorce:
Not All Cases Have Contested Court Hearings
If you’re worried about spending long days on the witness stand, don’t worry. Most North Carolina divorce cases never end up going to a formal trial. If you’re able to agree with the other side on how to divide assets, you can expect to have only one or two uncontested court hearings. If you agree on everything, those hearings are typically routine proceedings to approve paperwork that you’ve already agreed on.
Preliminary hearings and final hearings
The court might schedule a preliminary hearing shortly after you separate. Things like child custody, parenting time and spousal support can’t wait for the divorce to be finalized. The court must decide those things shortly after the divorce begins. The courts usually schedule a brief preliminary hearing in order to talk about urgent issues. In many cases, the attorneys work behind the scenes to narrow the issues and agree on a plan before the hearing.
Similarly, when you agree on all of the issues, your final hearing is a relatively short, routine procedure. The court conducts many of these hearings each week. Even though it’s not routine to you, it’s very much routine to the court, so try and relax. Your North Carolina divorce attorney makes sure that your paperwork is in order, and they can give you some tips on what to expect at your final hearing.
There’s a chance that you may have some hearings before your divorce case either resolves by agreement or goes to trial. Preliminary hearings might settle issues about discovery of assets or other pieces of evidence. Preliminary hearings might talk about how the parties can admit evidence at trial. Your attorney can help you evaluate your case to see if you should ask for these types of hearings. If the other party files a preliminary motion, your divorce attorney in North Carolina can help you respond appropriately.
If your case is in the small number of cases that goes to trial, you can present testimony and question witnesses. In most cases, the courtroom isn’t packed or even crowded. Your attorney can help you evaluate your case in order to determine if you should take your case to trial or accept a settlement agreement.