Divorce Trial Preparation: A Sample of Common Questions You Need to Know

Divorce is a tough time for many. Even if your divorce feels amicable, the process can leave you feeling frustrated, lost, and overwhelmed. In order to prepare you for divorce and divorce trials, we’ve listed several common questions below. Hopefully, this article will leave you feeling prepared, invigorated, and knowledgeable.

Sample of Divorce Trial Questions

There are many factors in any divorce, and no one divorce is the same. To mitigate the confusion of general advice, we’ve included pointed answers here that are pertinent to many trial experiences. Divorce trial questions can vary based on many factors, including whether or not you and your spouse have children, what state you live in, and other factors that may govern property or assets. It’s essential that you consult a professional lawyer when navigating any divorce trial. Family lawyers and divorce attorneys know the full extent of the law and can help fully prepare you for what to expect in any divorce trial.

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce Trial Questions

There are some major differences between contested and uncontested trials, and the questions you may get asked also vary. One of the biggest differences in these cases is the time it takes them to finalize. As expected, any uncontested divorce will go through its process quicker than a contested divorce. Still, these cases may last a long time. The outcomes of both are different, and the judge is ultimately responsible for the decisions over any divorced couple. In a contested divorce, the judge may ask about property, assets, cash, and other separation factors. A judge may prioritize your concerns, though in some cases they may not consider priorities that align with either you or your spouse. It’s important to give the judge as much detail as possible, though a skilled attorney should be able to navigate the judge’s questions and help resolve things on your behalf.

Basic Background Questions Like Name, Address, Telephone Number, Etc…

While the process may be complex, the judge will also ask basic questions about your life and identity. Even these basic considerations will be important to the judge, and it’s important to answer every question to the best of your ability.

Are You Here Today to Get Divorced?

While this may seem a relatively simple question, it is another major difference between contested and uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce is agreed upon by both sides, but even in court in front of a judge spouses may contest the reality of the divorce and its ramifications. If you are seeking divorce it’s important to clearly state your intention before the judge.

How Long Was Your Marriage?

This important question provides the judge with key details and insights into your relationship. The judge may use the answer to this question to help discern any issues with your divorce, but how you and your ex-spouse answer might also determine property division through the rest of the process. Assets such as retirement plans, real estate, and vehicles may be considered differently depending on the length you were married, though the value over the length of time is different depending on the state you live in. The judge considers all property you owned before marriage as separate property—these items are not subject to division in most states. The judge will also ask questions and need to review financial evidence. How you prepare your answer may determine how property is separated, and in many cases, there might not be an equal split of resources. The judge will also consider children in all cases, and evidence such as if one spouse paused their career to take care of young children at home.

Do You Have Any Biological or Adopted Children Together?

Children are a presiding factor in almost all divorce cases, and any judge will view children as the primary concern. The judge will work to move the divorce forward and ensure the interests of the children, and ask questions that pertain to their well-being. When it comes to children, the judge will ask questions concerning the financial, emotional, and physical needs of the child, and may make legal considerations that put custody above your desires. Any judge will confirm to both ex-spouses that there is a legal responsibility in the case, and ask questions to determine custody and child support. Custody can be complicated, and you will need a good family lawyer by your side to help you navigate the rulings handed down by the court. While custody laws are different in each state, the judge will always seek to award joint physical custody when possible and try to reach a situation that benefits the children first and foremost. 

Are Your Children Under 18 Years Old?

In most cases, the judge will ask additional questions if your children are under 18. They will ask about the names, date of birth, living location, and custody of each child. The judge may also then ask about your custody plans, living arrangements, visitation considerations, child support agreements, and more. Any young child will be a chief consideration for the judge, who will ask questions to determine their well-being from the outcome of the divorce agreements. While you and your ex-spouse can attempt to craft custody and visitation rights on your own terms, the judge will ultimately decide on those factors.

Have You Agreed About Custody of the Children?

Agreeing over custody is important, and if you and your ex-spouse do not agree on things like visitation and custody rights, it could add further complications to the divorce proceedings. In a heated or contested divorce, it may be up to the attorneys to talk with the judge and determine what is best for each child.

Depending on the Agreement, the Judge Might Ask if You Already Arranged the Visits

If you’ve already arranged visitations and custody agreements during your separation, the judge will consider these arrangements and ask about them. Even if you and your spouse have agreed upon a visitation and custody plan, you will need to adhere to the judge’s determination unless appealed. When there are visitation arrangements already in place, it’s important to answer the judge’s questions concerning them clearly and honestly, with the support of your attorney.

Have you and your spouse arranged child support?

The biggest factor in any divorce case where children are present is child support. Child support laws and regulations are different in every state, and the judge will ask questions concerning income, property, home, the children’s emotional and physical well-being, education, and more. Arranging child support in a contested divorce can take quite a bit of time, and include questions that may need to be answered by your divorce attorney.

Are there any property rights you need to decide on today, such as your home, cars, retirement pensions, bank accounts, or debts?

Some belongings are immediate, and the judge will ask you if there’s anything that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Property including houses or cars is obviously an important question to answer, but the judge will also need to know about separate and shared bank accounts, retirement plans, pensions, outstanding debts, and more. In any uncontested divorce, these questions may be resolved relatively quickly with or without a lawyer, depending on what each ex-spouse has agreed upon. When answering these questions under a contested divorce, the proceedings may drag on when each ex-spouse seeks to claim ownership over individual pieces of property.

Do You Want to Change Your Name?

During a marriage, one or both people involved may have changed their given last name and taken on the name of their spouse. The judge will ask if you wish to change your name, and if you answer yes then you can proceed. When changing your name, the judge may ask if you are seeking a name change for illegal or fraudulent purposes.

Other Important Considerations for a Divorce Trial

Divorce trials can be complicated and overwhelming, even if you are seeking an uncontested divorce or have proper legal representation. There are a number of considerations to make before the trial, including bringing a copy of your marriage certificate, any evidence you might need, proof of residency, etc. It’s a good idea to always be early for any proceedings with a judge and to bring supporting evidence of you or your ex-spouse you think the judge might require. Preparation is important, and your divorce attorney should help prepare you ahead of time by asking you for these crucial details. A family law attorney will help you check in with a courtroom clerk, find your way through the courthouse, and appear before the judge on time. Find a good divorce lawyer ahead of time and never attempt divorce unprepared.

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays is the founder of Skyview Law. He is licensed to practice law in Washington State and the Western District of Washington State Federal Court.