While it is true that most divorce cases are settled outside court, some do go to trial. If yours is one of them, you need to prepare yourself for what can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. And while it is rare that the courtroom drama ever rises to the level portrayed in movies or on TV, knowing what to expect can help keep you calm and focused during the trial process.
It is about the money.
Your finances will be scrutinized so be sure you have all your assets and debts identified and locked down before trial. Work with a financial expert and your attorney on a balance sheet so you know what you need to sustain your new life. When it comes to personal items, try to divvy those up before trial; arguing over a set of dishes is a waste of the court’s time and will be more expensive for you in the long run. Be prepared to make compromises; no one leaves a divorce trial getting everything they want.
Look to the future.
Make a list of the assets that are most important to you and prioritize them, keeping the future in mind. What will be most critical for you over the next five or 10 years? Is it practical for you to hang on to the house? Do you really need that expensive SUV? Creditors do not care that you are going through a divorce. You still need to be able to pay your bills, even if the alimony and child support has not yet kicked in.
Manage your expectations.
If you are expecting a judge to settle your score with your spouse, you will be sorely disappointed. To the court, there is no winning and losing; there is only an equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts, and making custody and support decisions based on the best interests of your children. Know that not everything will go your way. Divorce trials can be unpredictable.
Pay attention to the details.
The more complex your case — and most cases that go to trial are more complicated — the more you need to pay attention to the details. Make sure you read everything and make copies of all legal documents. Have an organized filing system so you can access your divorce paperwork when you need it. Make sure you examine bills from your attorney upon receipt and ask questions about items you don’t understand.
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.