Parents with JudgeThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing the rights of Peoria, Illinois fathers in child relocation cases. My previous post addressed the importance of discovery in cases involving custody and relocation issues. In this article I will discuss another important topic – what to expect at trial. Knowing what to expect from the trial process is critical to ensuring that things go smoothly. If you have questions about your situation then contact my office today to speak with a fathers’ rights attorney.

Trial in child relocation cases will be similar to what one typically sees portrayed in popular media with a few exceptions. First, instead of a trial by jury, a judge will hear the case in what is known as a “bench trial.” This means that the judge will be responsible for deciding whether evidence should be admissible and for deciding how any admitted evidence should be interpreted. Second, unlike in a jury trial, the court may or may not issue its decision immediately upon completion of the case. Aside from these differences, a relocation trial will bear similarities to other types of trials.

Trial will begin with each party making an opening statement. Opening statements provide an overview of the evidence which will be presented to explain the party’s position on how the court should rule at the end of trial. The parent who initiated the legal proceedings will present their evidence and witnesses first. The responding parent will then present their case and the first parent will then be given an opportunity to “rebut” the responding parent’s points. Rebuttal is not an opportunity to make new arguments or to raise new issues. The initiating parent may only use rebuttal to address specific points made by the responding party. Once all evidence has been presented then each side will make a closing argument. The court will issue a ruling once the judge has reached a decision.

It is important to understand that judges will strictly enforce the rules of evidence during the trial. This means that only properly introduced and admitted evidence will be considered for purposes of the court’s decision. As a former prosecutor, I understand these rules and have the experience necessary to navigate this process. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak with a Peoria fathers’ rights lawyer. My office also represents clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. We also serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.