The divorce process involves many different steps, including filing a petition, serving a spouse, negotiating a settlement, and perhaps taking the matter to trial. Two important parts of this process are the divorce hearing and the divorce trial, which have some similarities but are also very different.

Here’s an explanation of the difference between a divorce hearing vs. trial and what spouses should know about each of these parts of the divorce process.

The Divorce Hearing

What happens at a court hearing?

Well, in general, hearings are designed to offer temporary solutions while you await the final decision after the divorce trial is concluded. Therefore, a divorce hearing may address just one specific topic, such as temporary child custody. Other issues that may be addressed are temporary child support, alimony, home ownership-related payment issues, who pays legal fees, and which spouse gets to use shared vehicles.

There are often multiple hearings that are part of a couple’s divorce during different stages of the divorce process. At a preliminary divorce hearing, which is usually scheduled very soon after you file for divorce, you’ll first appear before the judge and discuss scheduling matters. It is essential that you attend all hearings scheduled by the court and any mediation sessions as well.

The hearing period may be used for discovery when is when one party asks the other to disclose information that can be used in a future trial. Hearings can also be used to ask the judge to ignore certain pieces of irrelevant evidence during the trial or to request that the judge not call a particular witness.

Towards the end of your divorce process, a pretrial hearing may be scheduled to present both sides of the case in the judge’s chambers rather than the courtroom. This is a very useful hearing because the judge will inform the parties how he/she would rule on the issues at a trial, letting you know if it is in your best interest to proceed with a trial or not. This may facilitate settlement discussions and help you avoid the time and cost associated with going to trial.

The Divorce Trial

What happens in divorce court at a trial?

Divorce trials establish permanent decisions, rather than the temporary ones agreed upon in divorce hearings. Divorce trials take considerably longer than hearings and involve testimonies. Not every divorcing couple needs to go to trial if they can negotiate an agreeable settlement before the trial begins.

After a trial, a final decision should be given by the court, thereby making any further hearings or trials unnecessary. At the end of a divorce trial, the judge will issue a final order, called a divorce judgment and decree. This order outlines this final decision, everything that was discussed at trial, and why the court made this ruling.

Schedule a Consultation Today with our New York Family Law Attorney

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything that you need to know and prepare for before a divorce hearing or divorce trial, which is why we’re here to help walk you through every step of the divorce process. Alatsas Law Firm is conveniently located for residents of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Our ground floor office is handicapped accessible with a subway stop and two bus lines nearby.

We know that dealing with legal issues affecting your family can be stressful, but we will proactively work to provide you with peace of mind as you move forward. If you’re in need of assistance with a divorce or family law concern, contact us today at 718-233-2903 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.  

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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