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One Hundred Days Before Your Divorce Trial

The trial in your legal divorce is approximately three months away. You must complete your wide-ranging search for useful information to ensure that the proof you will rely on will be available in court when you need it. Trial preparation is your prime concern for the last hundred days.

A series of windows will soon start closing, requiring you to take advantage of these "last chance" opportunities or never know what you may have missed—until it is too late. Learning something of these procedural demands and traps will help keep you from feeling like an outsider. Of course, you’ll be in a better position to participate in selecting trial objectives once you understand where you are headed.

At a minimum, this is a two-step process: first, you must find the information; and second, your attorney must meet the prerequisites to presenting documents and the testimony of witnesses in court. Often, your initial investigation discloses only the possible existence of useful information that then must be procured from another source and evaluated. Move quickly in following a paper trail, should that become necessary, to preserve your opportunity to ask the court for more time to deal with the truly unexpected.

The right to legally require by subpoena or demand documents or information from your spouse or other persons is generally cut off before the date of trial. All discovery must be completed, for example, by thirty days before trial. You will have to get discovery requests out two months before trial if the person receiving the request is given thirty days to respond.

You must choose experts you intend to use at trial and give them adequate time to do their work. Court rules usually require that experts you intend to use be designated no later than forty-five days before trial to give the opposition time to take the expert’s sworn testimony in a deposition. As with discovery, your last chance for picking experts occurs about two months before trial.

This is a short but vital interval in your case. Simply stated, your objective is to identify all useful information early enough to maximize your use of it. Your personal participation isn’t as great as in the chapters that follow this chapter, but it’s perhaps more important than ever for you to know what is occurring.

The first half of this chapter will walk you through the final steps of preparation. This work must be completed in advance of settlement discussions, not merely trial, to be of use to you.

Next, you’ll need to select your experts for use at trial. Give them time to complete their work, at least a month and usually two, before trial.