Most people pursuing a divorce will never have to appear in court. For most divorces the entire process can be dealt with by the two parties and their divorce lawyers, removing the need to go before a judge. But sometimes, during a particularly intense divorce or due to the negligence of one of the parties, the proceedings will move into a courtroom. When that happens, it’s important to make the right impression on the judge and other court officials. These are people who may have a large impact on the outcome of your divorce, and giving them the wrong impression can work against you as your case proceeds.
- Dress Conservatively – One of the first things people notice about you is how you are dressed, and when appearing before officials who have the power to severely impact your life it’s important to make the right first impression. If you appear in court wearing your work clothes or jeans and a t-shirt, the judge is likely to think that you aren’t taking them or their courtroom seriously. If there are custody issues involved, they may also think that you take work more seriously than you do your children. At the same time, you do not want to dress too opulently. Appearing in court bedecked in incredibly expensive clothes and flashy accessories gives the impression that you are peacocking for the court and your ex, which once again creates the impression that you aren’t taking the proceedings seriously.
- Act Maturely – Divorce is an emotional process, which can make it hard to control your feelings during the proceedings. As much as you may want to lash out at your ex or argue with what they have to say, the courtroom is not the place to do so. Be sure to follow the judge’s instructions for when to speak, do not engage with your ex unless told you can, and make sure to appear as if you are engaged with the proceedings. Body language says a lot about a person, and if one of the parties appears slouched and distracted, or is constantly bristling with anger and frustration, the judge will notice and will take it into account in their rulings. Also, remember to follow basic etiquette. Turn off your cell phone before the hearing, and be polite to the other people in the courtroom.
- Be Organized – A court hearing is an official legal proceeding and, as such, the officials involved expect that both parties will take the matter seriously enough to be organized, and prepared to present their evidence and make their statements. Once again, it’s important to appear that you are taking the proceedings seriously and not wasting the court’s time, and that you aren’t there just to engage in petty fighting with your ex. Have all your documents in order and practice any statements you want to make ahead of time.
- Be Honest – Of all the things you’ll have to do in court, this may be the hardest. Being honest about your former marriage and your plans for after the divorce, in front of your former partner without becoming overly emotional, can be surprisingly difficult. However, it is important that you do so. Tell the judge everything they want to know about you, your partner, your relationship, and everything else that they may ask pertaining to the divorce. Above all, be sure to tell the truth. Getting caught making a false statement or trying to make your ex look worse by manipulating the facts can backfire if you are caught, and it will make it harder for you to achieve the outcome you want as the case proceeds.
For more helpful resources to help you through your divorce, or to speak with one of our attorneys, call 702 766 6671.