This is the next post in a series of articles discussing fathers’ rights in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our previous article discussed the importance of conducting discovery in child custody cases. It is imperative to build one’s case using objective evidence that meets the Court’s strict evidentiary requirements. Discovery provides attorneys with various tools that allow them to gather testimony, records, documents, and other information to prove a father’s case at trial. An experienced lawyer will understand how to navigate the process to ensure that such information can be effectively submitted in Court. In this post, we will discuss what a father can expect at a custody trial. If you need assistance, contact our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
Unlike criminal or other types of civil trials, family law trials including custody issues are not heard by juries. Instead, they are bench trials, meaning that the Judge will hear all of the evidence and render the ultimate verdict. In some cases, the Judge will issue the final custody order immediately at the conclusion of the trial. In other instances, where the Court needs more time to consider the evidence presented by the parties, the Judge may issue their decision within a few days. Apart from these differences, custody trials proceed similarly to their criminal or civil counterparts.
The proceeding will begin with the attorneys for both sides making opening statements to the Court. This is an opportunity for both lawyers to provide an overview to the Judge of the issues that need resolved and their respective client’s legal arguments. The parent who initiated the proceeding will be the plaintiff and the responding party will be the defendant. The plaintiff’s attorney will present their client’s case first. This may include calling witnesses and presenting other evidence in support of the plaintiff’s case. The defendant will then present its case to the Judge, following the same format. After the defendant concludes, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to rebut the evidence offered by the defendant. Each attorney will then make closing arguments, which review and summarize the key elements of their cases. As stated above, the Judge will consider the information presented and may render their verdict immediately or request additional time to issue their decision.
It is important to remember that trials are formal legal proceedings and the Court will strictly enforce the rules of evidence and procedure throughout the process. Your attorney must understand these requirements and have the skills necessary to comply with the rules and communicate effectively with the Judge. Our firm has extensive experience in child custody trials and takes pride in assisting Arkansas fathers in such matters. Contact us today if you need assistance with a custody matter. In addition to Little Rock, we handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.