Preparing for a Divorce Trial

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If the issues of alimony, child support, time sharing, and division of marital property, assets  and debts cannot be agreed to by the parties in  a marital settlement agreement, a divorce case that is pending, will be going to trial.   After extensive and detailed discovery, and the exchange of documents and financial information between the parties, one or the other spouse can request a trial date from the judge.  The judge will then review the history of the case by checking the docket sheet to make sure all pleadings are closed and replied to.  That being the case, the judge will issue an order setting a trial date and informing the two attorneys of the requirements prior to trial. 

This includes filing a pre trial stipulation as to what facts are agreed to by the two opposing attorneys, what facts are in dispute, what issues need to be adjudicated.  It also includes the requirement of providing in advance any relevant case law or memorandum of law on a disputed issue, a fact witness list and rebuttal witness list for either party, an inspection and filing of exhibits and evidence and any objections thereto.  The judge will also order a mediation to occur sometime prior to the trail date.

Copies of all relevant documents have to be provided to the opposing attorney, as well as be available for the judge.  Also in advance of trial depositions have to take place and court reporter transcripts have to be ordered.  Trial preparation is a huge and costly task, involving lawyers, paralegals, expert witnesses, and support staff, along with document logs and generation.  That is why going to trial is such an expensive undertaking.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.  

 

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Seeking The Help Of Other Professionals During Divorce

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

It is very common in my divorce practice to seek the assistance of other professionals to help me litigate a case.  Below is a list of professionals I use and why:

1.  Psychotherapist, psychiatrist, child psychologist, social workers.  I use these professionals mostly in dealing with children’s issues like custody, sole parental responsibility and time sharing.

2.  Vocational evaluators.   If a spouse refuses to pursue a career or simply find employment, these experts can testify as to earnings and ability.  I use these professionals mostly in alimony cases.

3.  CPAs.  I use accountants to trace funds, do lifestyle studies, value businesses, assess finances, determine one’s true income.   CPAs are my best friends when alimony and high assets are at stake.

4.  Appraisers.  If the marriage included extensive and substantial art work, jewelry, antiques, coins, stamps, guns, cars, anything of exceptional value, I use appraisers to help in equitable distribution of assets cases.

5.  Real estate agents.  Obviously these experts assist me in valuations of real estate whether it is the marital home, vacation home, rental or commercial buildings.

6.  Medical personnel.  These experts assess special needs children and spouses for support purposes.

7.  Tax attorneys and CPAs.  These experts help with end games to show tax effects of settlement offers and their true value.

8.   Estate planning attorneys and financial planners.  These experts can assess a settlement offer to see if it is workable over a lifetime.

9.  Private investigators.  You know what they do.  Now in the computer age information is priceless.

I would not hesitate to co counsel with any of these experts if I feel it is in the best interests of my client.   In high asset cases or child custody cases where there is a lot at stake, experts are the best advisors to a judge.    For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

Experts Used In Divorce Proceedings.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many times in divorce cases that expert testimony or evidence is needed.  Most often CPAs perform analysis of the family finances, in terms of establishing valuations of a business, determining a party’s true income and expenses, and determinations of the truthfulness of financial affidavits.  Asset valuations and financial information is determined by using an accountants or forensic CPAs.  That person is key when it comes to depositions, temporary relief hearings and trial testimony and evidence.  Financial information controls child support, alimony awards, as well as distribution of marital assets and debts.  They also determine the ultimate outcome of any settlement or court order regarding the taxable events or ramifications of taxes in the overall scheme of things.

Appraisers are also needed in divorce cases to establish the value of jewelry, artwork, pianos, antiques and collectibles, such as stamp collections, wine collections, coin and gun collections, antique car collections.  Testimony of an appraiser can effect the distribution of marital assets.

Real estate agents and brokers value real property such as residences, rental property, and commercial property.   Divorce often forces sale.

Child psychologists get involved in time sharing and custody issues.  Oftentimes their testimony based upon home studies, helps the judge in determining what is in the best interests of the child.

Marriage counselors can testify as to rehabilitation of adults accused of drug use, alcohol abuse, anger management, and other mental health issues that may effect the outcome of a divorce.

Sometimes divorce trials become a “battle of the experts” so if your case is complex, or is going to trial, you should consider retaining the services of these expert witnesses.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

What happens if you can’t agree to agree at mediation?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You filed divorce papers.  Your spouse has responded.  Pleadings are closed and financial discovery is complete.  It’s time to go to mediation here in Palm Beach County courts.  But what happens if you and your spouse just can’t agree to the terms of your divorce at mediation?

One of the attorneys will set a temporary relief hearing before the judge to determine on a temporary basis who pays for what, when, how much, and where the children will live, child support amounts and other details, pending a trial.  So if mediation does not resolve the disputed issues between the husband and the wife, one this court order is in place, it is time to prepare for trial.

This is where divorce litigation gets expensive.  It is time to bring in the experts, whether it is an accountant, an appraiser, a real estate agent, a psychologist, the child’s teacher, etc.  Testimony will be taken in depositions, and at trial.  Exhibits and evidence will be prepared.  And the judge will decide what is to become of the family.

For more information about divorce mediation and litigation, call on one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Why is going to trial so expensive?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The divorce petition is filed with the court and the spouse is served.  The spouse has 20 calendar days to file and answer and a counter petition for dissolution of marriage.  Over the next month or so, mandatory disclosure is produced by both husband and wife.  This may include the following: pay stubs, tax returns, credit card receipts, bank statements, stock portfolios, deeds, titles, and any other evidence of income, assets or debts of the marriage or separate property of the parties.  Armed with all this paper, this “discovery”, both spouses and their lawyers attend mediation in an attempt to settle the divorce case and any disputed issues between the parties.  If a settlement occurs, the marital settlement agreement becomes part of a court order, the final divorce decree.

Should mediation not result in a partial or global marital settlement, the next step involves divorce litigation. Going to divorce court means taking the case to the judge so he or she can decide what is going to be for the future of the family.   A temporary relief hearing is set, which essentially is a mini trial.  The court order resulting from a temporary relief hearing sets forth the terms of the separation on a temporary basis pending the divorce proceedings.  Now the fun begins.

Issues such as a valuation of a business formed during the marriage can complicate the divorce.  Issues involving the employability of a stay at home spouse can complicate the divorce.  Issues regarding an unfit parent and who is to have custody can complicate a divorce.  Issues about relocation with children out of the state can complicate a divorce.  Hidden monies offshore can complicate a divorce. Money spent on paramours can complicate a divorce.  What is marital property versus what is non marital property can complicate a divorce.  Drugs and alcohol use along with domestic violence and general health issues can complicate a divorce.  Appraisals of jewelry and property can complicate a divorce.

Along with these divorce complications, come the expert witnesses to testify on behalf of each of their clients.  These include child psychologists, marriage counselors, forensic CPAs, appraisers, real estate agents, good mommy or good daddy friends, doctors, relatives.  Sometimes all these witnesses need to be deposed prior to trial.  And paid for their time and expertise.  Or testimony at trial.  Documents that can fill libraries are generated as evidence.  Each exhibit has to be marked for admissibility into evidence.  And your divorce lawyer has to know what is on every piece of paper and where to find it in the boxes and boxes of documents.

Trial preparation, from the point of strategizing the case, to obtaining necessary information and organizing the file, to speaking in the courtroom is time consuming, stressful, and very expensive.  The more complex issues there are in dispute between the spouses, the more expensive the trial will be.  By way of example, a straightforward half day trial can cost between $15,000 – $20,000 to prepare.  At Robin Roshkind, P.A., the lawyers always attempt settlement prior to switching gears toward litigation.   For more information, visit the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of the Firm’s experienced divorce lawyers at 561-835-9091.