At the temporary hearing what will happen is that will oftentimes be established, is your right to get discovery. Once you get the temporary hearing concluded, a final hearing is going to be set. It’s usually maybe about 60 days down the road, maybe sooner, maybe a little bit later, but generally around 60 days. Then what happens is you will get a chance to present your side of the case. Whatever the issues are in the case, you’re going to have a chance to present your side on it. Whether it’s for example, child custody matters, who gets the kids and when, child support, alimony if it’s an issue, how the property should be distributed. All of that is going to be covered in the final divorce hearing.
The rules of evidence are generally going to apply at that hearing. It’s not like the temporary hearing where there’s a lot more leeway as to what you can say. The court is supposed to generally follow the rules of evidence at the final hearing. It’s just like any other trial, except it’s what we call a bench trial because you don’t have a jury. You have a judge who’s going to be deciding on the issues and he’s going to be what we call the finder of fact and the finder of law. The judge is going to be making determinations on both of those things versus if you’re in a regular jury trial, the court makes legal decisions, but the ultimate decisions about the facts are going to be made by the jury. It’s different in family court in West Virginia. The judge is both the finder of facts and makes the final determination of what the law is.
Once you get to the final hearing, the court will issue a ruling. Usually the court makes a decision right on the spot but sometimes the court does not make a decision on the spot. What the court will do is the court will take it under advisement. That’s the terminology used. We’ll take it under advisement and issue an opinion later on about what should happen. Most of the time, the courts will rule on the spot about the issues. At the end of the day what you’re going to have is a court order that says who’s responsible for what, who gets the children when, and if somebody wants their name changed, that’s going to be in there.
All of that is going to be outlined in the final divorce order at the conclusion of the hearing. Now there is a way to get divorced prior to all of the issues being resolved, but that’s a topic for another day. For example, it’s possible to be divorced, but you might have all these outstanding issues that still have to be resolved by the court. This is a good summary of the divorce process overall in West Virginia.