Seven Things To Know Before You Go To Divorce Court

by Norris Law Group on September 8, 2014

Seven Things To Know Before You Go To Divorce CourtDid you know that a large number of couples seeking divorce never see the inside of a courtroom? The majority of divorce cases actually settle out of court. But in the event that you do have to go to divorce court, Casey Clark-Ney offers some tips.

  1. Appearances matter. According to Steve Ashley of the Divorced Fathers Network, “Sometimes men will show up to a courtroom and they may come right off of a job site…He may look like his life is all about  work instead of preparing to talk to someone about a serious matter like his children. Ashley equally cautions men to not “underdress” or “overdress.” If a man is underdressed, he may look as though he “doesn’t care;” if he is overdressed, he may look like he can afford to pay out a larger settlement amount.

    As for women, divorce coach Cathy Meyer tells them to “[D]ress conservatively…You don’t want to wear your diamond-studded earrings, don’t drench yourself in jewelry. Look like your common average person.” Meyer also warns women against wearing anything too revealing. Both Ashley and Meyer say that dressing in a simple, professional manner is best.

  2. Be aware of your body language.  Steve Ashley says that it is important that litigants in a divorce case do not look “disinterested” in the proceedings. He also says that men’s tendencies toward “stoicism” may work against them in court: “[Not showing emotion] can be detrimental to a man. If he will speak more about his feelings and his plans for his children he may do better in court and have a better chance of having shared parent arrangements.”
  3. Always be honest. According to Cathy Meyer, “Above all else, be honest…Even if you’ve got something to say that is going to make you look bad, being honest about it is going to make you look good…Don’t go into court with assumptions, always go into court being humble. You can say ‘OK, I have the upper hand in this case.’ That arrogance is going to show in the courtroom. That is one thing the judge is going to look at. That judge has great discretion on how he rules.” The judge should be addressed as “Your Honor” and court staffers should be addressed as either “Sir” or “Ma’am.” Proper grammar, such as saying “Yes” rather than “Yeah,” and the like, may help you make a better impression in court as well.
  4. Keep “feelings” out of it. No matter how contentious your divorce may be, Cathy Meyer says to “[K]eep your anger in check…Keep your opinions to yourself. [L]et your lawyer do the talking…[L]ogic rules  the courtroom, not emotion…Another thing I have noticed is people tend to forget that they are mature adults. I have seen people make faces at their spouse. [B]e mature. Don’t engage in conflict.”
  5. Prepare and be organized. A little organization can help avoid “courtroom jitters.” Cathy Meyer says, “If you are concentrating on being organized … you’ve got less time to think about the emotional aspect.”
  6. Come by yourself.This may seem a little scary. But Cathy Meyer advises to not bring friends or family with you for “support,” as they might cause a disturbance or lead you to feel more emotional about the situation. “Be strong and go alone…You are there to do business with the judge, not anyone else.” Additionally, she says to simply “stick to business” while in court. Don’t make phone calls or text anyone. Concentrate solely on what’s going on in court.
  7. Know when and how to speak up.Christina Rowe, author of “Seven Secrets to a Successful Divorce,” says that while in court, “Don’t whisper in your attorney’s ear. If you do whisper, remember that sometimes the microphones at the table are very sensitive, and what you say may be recorded by the courtroom audiotape, and heard by the court reporter, even if nobody else hears you.” Taking notes during the court proceeding is acceptable, even while the judge is speaking. If you need to communicate with your attorney while court is in session, write your questions or concerns down on paper and give it to your attorney (after the judge has finished speaking to everyone). In fact, it may be best to not speak at all in court unless the judge asks you a direct question.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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