This is the next post in a series of articles discussing requests to modify an existing child custody order in Little Rock, Arkansas. The previous article in this series explained the importance of discovery in a child custody dispute. Parents requesting a change in custody must be prepared to prove to the court why a modification is necessary and in the best interest of their child. Using the discovery process can be the key to obtaining the objective evidence necessary to meet their burden of proof. A lawyer with trial experience can assist you with this process. This post will focus on what parents can expect during a custody modification trial. If you need assistance, contact us today to speak with an attorney.
Custody modification trials, like other domestic matters, are bench trials. This means that the case will be heard and decided by a Judge, not a jury. The trial process begins with each side making an opening statement to the Court. The parent who initiated the case, known as the plaintiff, will present their evidence and witnesses first. The other parent, who is known as the defendant, will then present their evidence and witnesses. Following this, the plaintiff will have a chance to present “rebuttal” evidence. The rebuttal phase of the case may only be used to directly refute claims made by the defendant. The attorneys for both sides will each make their closing arguments and the Judge will deliberate the arguments. The Judge may issue his or her decision immediately or dismiss the parties and render the decision within a short period of time after the trial. The issuance of the final order will mark the completion of the process.
In light of the serious implications of a custody modification matter, we cannot overemphasize the importance of retaining counsel with family law and trial experience. During the trial, the Judge will strictly enforce the rules of evidence and other procedural requirements. If not properly followed, valuable evidence may be excluded from your case, which means the Judge is not permitted to consider it in the final decision. Even if the evidence proves that a change is in the child’s best interest, a Judge may be forced to rule in favor of the other parent. Retaining counsel who is familiar with the rules of evidence will help ensure that your case is handled properly.
If you are involved in a case requesting a change of child custody, it is important that you retain attorneys who are familiar with the litigation process. Your choice of counsel can make a significant difference as to the outcome of your case. Our firm has extensive custody trial experience and is ready to assist you. Contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock lawyer. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.