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Trials - Family Law

A Family Law trial is about divorce, legal separation, parenting plans, relocation, or child support. The two types of trials are called an Informal Family Law Trial (IFLT) and a Traditional Trial.

If you do need a trial

In a family law case, you can choose an Informal Family Law Trial (IFLT) or a traditional trial: 

Informal Family Law Trial

Both parties must agree to this type of trial with fewer rules.

  • This type of trial may be easier for people who are representing themselves because the judge is more involved in asking questions and guiding the process. The judge helps parties focus on the specific issues for their decision.
  • You can speak directly to the judge about your situation without interruption or objections from the other party or the party’s lawyer. The other party or the party’s lawyer is not allowed to ask you questions.
  • You do not have to worry about formal rules such as the Rules of Evidence that limit what you can say in court. Speak freely about conversations between you and other people who are not in court. Talk to the judge about what your children have said about custody and parenting time. Tell the judge whatever you think is important before they make a decision about your case.
  • You can give the judge any documents you think are important.
  • These trials may be shorter. You may have to take less time off from work. If you have a lawyer, they may be able to prepare in a shorter amount of time. The cost to have a lawyer represent you may be less.
  • Prepare for your trial by reviewing your pretrial conference order and following Informal Family Law Trials rules (LFLR 23).

Traditional trial

This more formal process may be a better option for more complicated cases.

  • Rules and formal procedures are in place. The Rules of Evidence apply. You or your lawyer may feel more comfortable with this structure.
  • You like the fact that the Rules of Evidence will limit what people can say and the information that can be given to the judge in writing. You may have additional issues to raise on appeal because the Rules of Evidence apply.
  • The question-and-answer format will be more effective in getting out the information about your case. It may be important to be able to ask the other person follow-up questions.
  • You may request that any witness you think is important be allowed to testify.
  • Generally, written statements from others such as family members, teachers, and friends will not be considered by the judge. People with something to say about your situation or the other person’s situation will need to come to testify during your trial.
  • Better option if your case is complicated. You and the other person may own a business or have lots of stocks, property, and retirement funds to divide.

Choosing the type of trial

You must tell the court which type of trial you want by filling out a Family Law Trial Selection form (102KB) and filing it with the Clerk’s Office.

This form is also available in other languages below.