Checklist: Pre-Trial Preparation for Your Family Law Case

CourtroomHave a Permanent Orders hearing or other family law hearing coming up in your Colorado case? If mediation and settlement talks haven’t worked out, you are probably having to go to trial (a final orders or permanent orders hearing) to resolve the issues in your case. Here are some basic tips to help you prepare for your hearing.

Specific strategies, like what law you should use or what questions you should ask your witnesses, are great topics to discuss with one of our lawyers.

  1. Trial Management Order. Make sure that you are aware of all the deadlines in your case before it goes to hearing. There are standard deadlines, but they are often reset by custom deadlines set by the Court. The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, especially Rule 16.2, set important and default deadlines for family law matters.
  1. Witness Disclosures. If you plan on calling witnesses, you need to disclose your list of witnesses to the other side no later than 63 days before your hearing date. Otherwise, the Court may not let your witnesses testify. If you plan on calling an expert, you must disclose the expert’s report and CV/resume with your Witness Disclosures.
  1. Exhibits and Exhibit List. If you plan on using documents to support your arguments, you need to disclose them to the other side. You will also need to create an Exhibit List. They are typically due to the other side a week before the hearing. However, you must check your Trial Management Order to make sure the Court did not set different deadlines.
  1. Joint Trial Management Certificate and/or a Pre-Trial Statement. This Certificate (or Statement) serves as a “Cliff’s Notes” for the Court during your hearing. It should include your position on all issues to be heard at your hearing. If you are working on a Joint Trial Management Certificate, you must cooperate with the other party (or the other party’s lawyer) to make sure this document is submitted, along with an Exhibit List, on or before the deadline.
  1. Witness Subpoenas. If you want witnesses to show up to your hearing, they must be personally served with a subpoena. This must occur no later than 48 hours before the hearing itself. You also need to file the subpoena, and an Affidavit of Service (of the subpoena), to the Court. Simply filing a subpoena with the clerk will not satisfy the personal service requirement. You can ask witnesses to sign a Waiver and Acceptance of Service if you know they are willing and able to attend your hearing.
  1. Exhibit Notebooks. If you plan on using exhibits, you are required to create at least four (4) notebooks. One is for you, one is for the Court, one is for the witness stand, and another is for the other party (or his or her lawyer).
  1. Trial Outline. You should take the time to write out the things you want the Court to know about your case. Start with a brainstorming session of everything that comes to mind. Then start categorizing your arguments. Lastly, you should think about what exhibits (documents) and witnesses support each one of your arguments.
  1. Witness Outlines. You should write out questions for each witness you intend to call. You should think about what you think the other side party will ask your witnesses.  Do the same for the other side’s witnesses.

Did you know? We can help you prepare for your hearing – or even represent you in a limited appearance for your hearing! Contact us today for more information about our unbundled services.