While many divorce settlements are reached outside the courtroom, if there is a chance that your divorce will not be one of them, you need to know what to expect in court. A recent Huffington Post article provides tips from divorce lawyers to help you avoid making a big mistake that could cost you:
Go to court without an attorney. An experienced divorce attorney already knows the inner workings of the legal system — the process, the judges, how to present a good argument — and that knowledge can be invaluable to your case. You usually only get one chance to obtain a good result, so don’t risk that by not having good legal representation.
Go to court unprepared. The legal system runs on paperwork and if yours is in bad shape, the chances of getting a good result are greatly diminished. When it comes to setting alimony and support, you must provide the court with documentation that proves your current income and debts. If you cannot produce that when the judge asks, you may find yourself saddled with higher support payments than you can afford.
Dress inappropriately. Appearances matter, especially in court. Don’t make it harder to get what you want by making a bad first impression on the judge.
Make unreasonable demands. When a divorce heads for court, it’s usually because the parties cannot agree on terms because their demands are unreasonable. Judges look for reasonable solutions and if you insist on being unreasonable — or are trying to use the court to exact revenge — it is likely to backfire on you.
Leave your cell phone on. Family courts are busy and judges do not look kindly on interruptions to the proceedings. Cell phones that ring, beep or buzz will get the judge’s attention, and not in a good way. It’s considered disrespectful to have your cell phone on in a courtroom, so turn it off and leave it in your pocket or purse until you are outside.
Interrupt the judge. You do not want to interrupt the judge when he or she is speaking. Ever. Jot your thoughts down on paper and then wait to speak when it’s your turn.
Be angry. Even if you have every reason to be angry, you have to contain your emotions in court. Judges do not like dealing with angry people. You want the judge to like you, so be polite and cooperative. Your case will go better for you if you behave well.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.