Part 3: Preparing for a Divorce Trial in Massachusetts

QUESTION 3: Who prepares the trial?

An attorney who represents you in a well prepared trial is like a conductor of a symphony or a director of a movie. The attorney’s role is to put the pieces of the puzzle together in a presentation through testimony and exhibits that will be comprehensible by the judge hearing the case. When I am representing a client during a divorce trial, I am acutely aware of what he/she wants and what is possible within the law. I tell the client as well as write to the client explaining about the doable and the not doable. If negotiations have broken down, and there is a significant issue that needs to be decided, I will adopt a thesis, an underlying theory of the case. One of my jobs, in addition to interviewing and preparing witnesses, preparing exhibit notebooks, preparing a proposed judgment, and anticipating evidentiary challenges, is making the case interesting for the judge to hear. In other words, taking the components of the case and shaping them to tell the story.

A good example that demonstrates the presentation may be in a removal case where I may be representing the dad who will remain in Massachusetts whose soon to be former wife wants to move across the country to live with her boyfriend. In this type of case, I would want to have the father testify about his involvement with his children, historically. I would want him to testify about his involvement in the children’s activities. I would want him to testify about his family who live close by. I would want him to testify about how the children spend holiday time with him and the children’s aunts, uncles and cousins. I would want to introduce school records to demonstrate how the children are doing in school. And of course, if the court investigator’s report was favorable to my client’s position, I would want to call the GAL as a witness and bring out in his/her testimony why it is not in the best interests of the children to be taken away from their father. The theory of his case would be how the father has always been a loving and committed dad, both by his current action and words as well as historically.

This all sounds like a lot of work, so naturally, the next question is about cost. I will talk about this in my next blog.

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