WORD OF DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to replace the importance of getting legal advice about your case from an attorney. Rather, this blog is to give you general instruction about what is expected at a hearing (trial) and how to prepare. For specific instruction about your case and preparing for a hearing you should contact an attorney, or work with our LawYourWay program.
The key to crafting a persuasive argument is to clearly state the relief you are seeking, know the law the Judge will be applying, and then present the facts/evidence necessary to support your position so that the Judge will rule in your favor.
You must be able to state your desired conclusion simply. These conclusions should be clear and concise. Some examples of desired outcomes might be:
Depending on the hearing, you may have multiple requests/conclusions that you are seeking from the Court. Start by outlining the separate conclusions for each of the issues that you are asking the Court to address.
Next, you need to find the law that the Judge will apply for each of your issues. Judges are bound to follow Colorado written court rules, case law or statutes. To access the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, you may find these here. The body of statutes that speak on divorce, custody, and child support cases can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-101 through §14-10-133. You can find these statutes here.
Below are some sites to the most common statutes to review:
Finally, you need to apply the facts of your case to the law that will be provided. This can be done in an outline format. As an example, if you are asking the Court to determine what parenting time the Court shall consider in the best interest of the children and all relevant factors, you should focus on the factors set forth in C.R.S. §14-10-124 to include when preparing your argument, as follows:
For each of the relevant factors you should outline the facts that apply to support your position. Examples of applying one of the best interest factors to your case are:
The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community:
You will need to apply the facts of your case to each of the applicable factors that the Court will be considering for each of the issues that you want the Court to decide. This takes time. Yet, doing this will serve as the basis for your entire hearing and what will enable the Judge to rule in your favor. This is a critical step because taking the effort to apply the facts to all the factors of the law that the Judge will be considering will tell you what evidence/testimony you need to present to the Court for the Judge’s consideration.
Regarding the above example of a parenting time argument, please note that the Court may appoint, and parties may hire, a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”) or a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (“PRE”) to address the best interests of the children and make recommendations for parenting time and other factors, which I will discuss in a later blog.
Going through all of these steps carefully and thoroughly not only will provide the Judge with a well-reasoned and persuasive argument but will also help you determine who you will need to call as a witness and what evidence and exhibits you will want to present to the Court at the time of your hearing. Stay tuned for Part III of this series!