Because divorce cases involve somewhat vague and subjective laws, coupled with circumstances that are unique to each marriage, they are notoriously difficult to try in court. Most couples do their best to avoid litigation, but it may be impossible for them to work in a cooperative manner. The court attempts to resolve these conflicts through early intervention programs, but if either party refuses to settle, the case will have to be scheduled for a hearing.
Preparing for your hearing requires extensive knowledge of New Jersey's divorce statutes and family court procedures. While you are allowed to represent yourself, it will be extremely difficult to file all the required paperwork and gather the required evidence without help from an experienced attorney. Your evidence may include testimony from witnesses who have observed, or been involved in certain actions between you and your spouse. These actions include adulterous behavior, incidents of abuse, and transferring assets in order to keep them out of the divorce. If your hearing involves custody and visitation, you may need witnesses to testify about incidents pertaining to your children.
Professionals, such as psychologists and teachers, are usually willing to testify because they care about your child's bests interests. They're also likely to be honest in their testimony, since they would be putting their careers at risk by lying or distorting the facts in a court proceeding. Other witnesses, however, require much more thought and consideration. For example, if a witness is a friend or relative of your spouse, you and your lawyer will need to decide if it's really worth it to have that witness at your trial. The primary issue is that a witness cannot be forced to say something, even if you both know it's true. A witness can deny knowledge of certain facts, or even state the facts in a certain way that can be hurtful to your case. It doesn't help that he or she may be resentful about being subpoenaed, thereby being forced to appear in court when they would prefer not to get involved.
Even if you decide not to call someone as a witness, that person may have documentation that can help your case. Let's say that your spouse transferred over certain assets to his brother in order to keep them out of the divorce proceedings. Instead of subpoenaing your brother-in-law, your lawyer can serve him with with a subpoena to produce the documents showing the transfer. Regardless of which type of subpoena you need to serve, it's imperative that you begin the process as soon as possible. Witnesses need to be given ample notice to appear, or to produce documentation. If at all possible, your attorney should meet with the witnesses prior to the hearing in order to go over their testimony, and the types of questions that they may be asked the other attorney. For a full explanation of the subpoena process in New Jersey, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.