Most divorce and family cases settle before trial. To get to a settlement, parties should almost always send a settlement offer. It also makes sense in most instances to settle once the settlement terms are within the margin of error versus litigating a case where there is nothing to be gained.
However, not all cases settle. Some parties are unable to reach a settlement that makes sense for both. In other cases, the parties’ viewpoints on what is reasonable are so opposite of the other that settling is impossible. When parties cannot settle, the only way to resolve the case is to try it.
Exhibit books can help achieve a better result
Organization at trial can go a long way in helping a party receive a better result. The reality is that judges hear lots of cases. To obtain the best chance at a positive result, it is vital to present the case in a coherent manner. One way to be organized is for a lawyer to have an exhibit book put together before trial.
An exhibit book generally involves all exhibits being bound in a three-hole binder before trial. The exhibits are then topically organized, marked by letter or number and bate-stamped. A cover sheet that shows all the exhibits is usually at the front of the exhibit book. A cover sheet can denote whether the exhibit was offered, admitted, or rejected.
Organizing an exhibit book topically
In most cases, it also makes sense to organize the exhibits topically. In a divorce, there can be many issues like property and debt division, child custody, child support, spousal support, attorneys’ fees and even other matters like marital misconduct. Instead of having these exhibits sporadically in the exhibit book, having all the exhibits on a topic next to each other can often make sense.
Presenting witnesses in the general order in which the exhibits are in the exhibit book can also be considered. The last exhibit on each topic should entail a bookend exhibit where the judge can clearly see what the party is requesting. This includes child support calculations, proposed custody schedule or parenting, proposed property and debt division, etc.
Again, the organization is key at trial. So, having a lawyer who carefully considers the order and manner in which evidence is presented and submitted is important.
Have copies for everybody
Having copies of exhibit books for the witness stand, opposing counsel, the guardian ad litem and judge can also help. In this way, the lawyer can refer to the exhibit number and page number of an exhibit when a witness is on the stand. By doing this, everybody in the courtroom can simply turn to the referenced page.
Time is wasted in court when parties struggle to figure out which exhibit is being referenced and its page number. The lawyer also may have to move around the courtroom with each exhibit giving everybody a copy. Handing an exhibit book to the lawyers in the courtroom before trial is easier.
Using exhibit books like this, a judge can also take it with them after the trial. As the judge weighs the case, it can be useful as an organized tool for the judge to have all the exhibits after a trial in a bound book. Many judges will want to review all or some of the exhibits again after trial. The easier a lawyer makes this for a judge, the better.
Exhibit books can shorten trial time
An exhibit book can also shorten the trial time. Instead of having to repeatedly hand copies of exhibits to the lawyers in the courtroom and be concerned with confusion about the page number, an exhibit book can move the trial along quicker.
When a trial takes less time because a lawyer is organized, most judges are happier. Clients also incur less in legal fees the less time a trial takes.
If you are going through a divorce or family law matter where there is an upcoming trial, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can contact us at 855-895-0595 or visit the Stange Law Firm website.