Does every case have to go to Trial?
No. The vast majority of cases are settled without a trial. Sometimes, when parties cannot agree, even after being prodded to do so by attorneys, mediators and the court, a trial is necessary. Trials seem to occur when one or both parties refuse to budge at all. Usually, each side will budge and a trial becomes necessary only if an agreement cannot be reached. Sometimes agreement is reached just before trial, once all of the facts are known and each side can better understand the likely outcome of trial since by then they have each had a chance to look at the evidence the other party has and to interview witnesses.
What is the difference between a "Hearing" and a "Trial"?
Often the words "hearing" and "trial" are used interchangeably, but "Trial" generally refers to the FINAL hearing or the last court appearance which should conclude all issues. "Hearings" can cover temporary issues such as temporary custody, support, use of a residence or violation of an existing Order.
How many witnesses can I have?
At trial, you may have as many witnesses as needed (unless the court determines their testimony is inadmissible for a legal reason such as relevance). At a temporary hearing in Georgia, you are generally limited to the party and one witness per party at a temporary hearing, unless the Court makes an exception.
Can Affidavits be used?
Yes. Under certain conditions, and used properly (including giving the other side a copy at the right time), at Temporary Hearings, Affidavits may be submitted.
Can I have a jury trial?
In Georgia, jury trial is allowed on request of either party in certain cases including divorce. They are not allowed in custody cases, unless the case also involves support or asset division in which case the jury could hear the other issues. Juries do not determine custody, visitation or attorney’s fees.
What is Family Court?
It is a Court devoted to handling only family law cases. Fulton County has the most comprehensive Family Court in Georgia. You can learn more about it at .
How long does a hearing or trial take?
Hearings are usually shorter than trials. Most hearings last less than one day and most trials last from one to five days. Of course there are exceptions depending on the complexity of the issues.
Is it better to settle or go to trial?
If you can achieve positive results without trial, settlement is to be preferred since trials are emotionally and financially expensive. However, sometimes a trial is the only way to achieve a fair result. You should discuss this with a lawyer after you have explained all the facts to him or her.