Divorce can create a lot of anxiety. You aren’t sure how much money you will have, what belongings you’ll end up with, where the kids will be spending their time, or what will happen to your house. You might also be worried about having to make a court appearance. First, be assured that not every divorce case ends up in court or even goes to trial. But if yours does, you want to be prepared to successfully present your case. Most people haven’t spent any time in a courtroom but realize the courtroom is an unusual environment with its own set of rules and etiquette. Knowing a bit about what is expected from you in court can reduce your anxiety and help you navigate your hearing with ease.
- Be on time. A lot of the time, you will show up at the same time as a bunch of other people who also have a hearing. Take a seat in the courtroom and wait for your name or case number to be called.
- Dress up. Wear business casual when appearing in court. You won’t be sorry.
- If you filed the action (i.e., complaint, paternity action, etc.), you (and your attorney if you have one) will most likely sit on the left side of the courtroom.
- When the judge enters, everyone rises.
- Don’t ever interrupt the judge or your attorney if you are in court.
- Never respond to what opposing counsel says. Stay quiet and let your attorney address the issues.
- The judge may ask you to speak to your case:
- You can bring friends and family members along for support. They will sit behind you in the audience if you have an attorney. Remind them to stay quiet and to not interrupt the court proceedings.
- After court is adjourns, documents will be need to be prepared to file in your case. When your attorney asks you to review documents, do it. Be careful to check for accuracy and truth. If something is left out, contact your attorney immediately and find out if it was omitted as strategy or was simply forgotten and needs to be added.