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Contested Hearings - Trial, For Colorado Divorce


Summary:  Prepare to put on a contested hearing case, in the event you have to go to a hearing. If you cannot avoid having a court make temporary or permanent orders based on a hearing, then make sure you present summary exhibits as may be necessary to make your case. The judge will not make your case for you.


Colorado Divorce Contested Hearings

In a divorce case, Colorado courts may hold a temporary orders hearing and/or a permanent orders hearing.  And sometimes there are hearings for other purposes, such as refusal to follow court orders (contempt of court.)

In almost all cases, a hearing is a poor way to settle disputed issues. It is time consuming, costly, and almost always increases the hostility between the parties. The best solution is to negotiate a settlement agreement (and temporary orders), as discussed above.

In a hearing (sometimes called a trial), the judge listens to testimony by the parties, witnesses, family evaluators, and experts.  The judge also reviews documents and other exhibits. In Colorado, family law cases are not heard in front of a jury. Only before a judge or magistrate.

After listening to the testimony and reviewing the documentary evidence, the judge then makes a decision and makes specific orders as to the division of property and debts, use of property such as the family home and vehicles, parenting time, child support, and maintenance (alimony.)

In most cases, both parties to a divorce case feel that the judge’s orders are unfair.  One of the reasons is that the parties often have unreasonable expectations. Another reason is that the judge may have made a mistake as to certain facts.

Perhaps the biggest mistakes made at a hearing include:

1.  Misrepresentation or failure to disclose (which is proven during the hearing);

2.  Lack of credibility, where you are not likely to be believed (who is telling the truth?);

2.  Failure to put on a good case through the use of summary exhibits (not prepared); and

3.  Your own “dirty hands”, where you also have a lot of fault as to the dispute.

Tip: Few hearings should ever be held. If one of the parties refuses to properly mediation or otherwise settle the case, it is generally the same party who loses at trial because he or she is not prepared.  Good trial preparation is a tremendous aid to help settle a case.  If both parties are well-prepared for trial, then the case should not go to trial.

The hiding of assets and income is generally found out at or before the hearing. Any misrepresentation or failure to disclose can be shown by the wise selection and use of documentary evidence.  Such as bank statements and the cost of the current standard of living. In other words, a self-employed person who is supporting a “significant other” as well as paying a mortgage and truck payments, has to be making a minimal income to support that lifestyle.

Credibility at Trial

Perhaps the biggest mistake made at a permanent orders hearing is the failure to put on a good case, because of your attorney's lack of skill and lack of understanding the power of credibility.

Often, trials are won or lost based on credibility.  How believable and truthful are the parties and witnesses?

This means that the judge often rules for the party who most appears to be telling the truth.

Too often the party who really should put on a good case to prove their case, relies on conflicting and complicated testimony to make their point. Often that does not work, because the judge does not know who to believe and important details are lost in the process. The judge is not going to spend hours trying to sort out and tabulate numbers. The judge will not put on your case.

Summary Exhibits at Trial

When the wasting or hiding of asset or income is involved, use a good summary exhibit to make your point.  By that I mean - use a chart to summarize the flow of cash and expenditures to show both hidden assets and hidden income.  See another page on this site.  Help the judge understand that the other party is not properly disclosing. Help the judge to rule in your favor.  (A good chart also helps to settle the case and avoid the time delay and expense of a hearing.)

GIF The material on this web site is for informational purposes only. This law firm practices only in Colorado. An attorney-client relationship is established only when an agreement as to the scope of representation and fees has been signed and a retainer paid. Colorado law may consider these web site materials to be attorney advertising. GIF
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