Oregon Divorce Trials
Oregon divorce trials are bench trials– meaning they are tried before a judge and not to a jury. Oregon divorce trials can be informal or formal, and they can span anywhere from an hour to– in extreme cases– months. The length of a trial depends on various factors such as the complexity of the case, the documentary evidence being presented, and the number of witnesses being called to testify.
Oregon Divorce Trial Procedures
The exact procedures for a divorce trial will vary depending on the Circuit Court (each court may have their own supplemental rules) and will also vary somewhat depending on the judge. However, a general overview of procedure is as follows:
- Preliminary matters: Often before the trial begins in earnest, the judge will take up evidentiary matters, scheduling matters, and what is sometimes referred to as “housekeeping matters.”
- Opening statements: Although not required, both parties will typically make a brief opening statement to give the judge a preview of the issues, and evidence expected to be presented.
- Petitioner’s case in chief: Direct and cross examination of witnesses called by the Petitioner. Also, admission of documentary evidence from Petitioner.
- Respondent’s case in chief: Direct and cross examination of witnesses called by the Respondent. Also, admission of documentary evidence from Respondent.
- Rebuttal: Depending on the court and the judge, sometimes rebuttal is allowed so that the parties can present evidence to rebut evidence or testimony provided in the parties’ respective cases in chief.
- Closing arguments: Both cases will almost always argue their case at the conclusion of evidence. Petitioner goes first, Respondent follows, and the Court will sometimes allow brief rebuttal arguments.
- Ruling: The judge may announce his/her factual findings, legal opinion, ruling, and judgement immediately following the conclusion of the case. The judge may also take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling later from the bench (at a later hearing), issue a letter opinion, or issue a general judgment.