In litigation without a jury, and domestic law specifically, trials can go on for hours, even days. Sometimes, several days of hearings are heard over the course of multiple weeks. In some cases, several days of hearings can be set over the course of several weeks or even months.
Even if a trial is only one day or for an hour or two, a party can request special findings in the matter. Special Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Judgment and are governed by Trial Rule 52 in Indiana1. Special Findings essentially summarize the case, laying the background of the matter, documents filed, the parties, and the argument at trial.
Special Findings can be helpful in a case for several reasons. First, especially if a trial was spread out over several days or weeks, Special Findings can allow the information to be summarized in one document.
Also, Special Findings can affect the standard of review for an appeal if the outcome of the case is not what a party desired. If Special Findings are issued in a trial court setting, and the matter is appealed by either party, the Court of Appeals will review if the evidence supports the findings and then whether the findings support the judgment. If Special Findings are not issued, and a general judgment is issued, if there is an appeal, the judgment can be upheld by any evidence presented at the trial.
Some cases require Special Findings. For example, after a hearing on Grandparent Visitation, the Court must issue Special Findings. They can also be requested in other cases. Often, the Court will Order that the parties both submit proposed Special Findings prior to the Court’s issued Findings.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring Special Findings and the meaning of same. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. may be able to help evaluate same. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.