Will My Divorce Trial Have a Jury?

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Will My Divorce Trial Have a Jury?

In Missouri, family court cases, including divorce, do not have juries. If your case is litigated to the point of proceeding to trial, then you will have what is known as a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial where the Judge acts as the jury and makes all decisions. In a bench trial, all evidence and witness testimony is presented to the Judge. The Judge will then typically take the case under advisement, which means that decisions regarding the case will not be made on the day of trial. Typically, a judgment for the case with all the decisions regarding the contested issues will not be issued for 6 to 12 weeks after the trial.

There are both perks and drawbacks of a bench trial. The main perk is that a Judge is typically well-versed on family law so they will not be particularly persuaded by gimmicks by the lawyer for the other side. The main drawback of a bench trial is that many Judges have seen many similar situations to yours and may make quick judgments when it comes to the facts of your case. While Judges are not easily persuaded in these cases, it is sometimes difficult to tell if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Finding an attorney who is experienced in bench trials is important for your case, as you must prepare for your case to go to trial even if it ends up settling in the end.