Whether a divorce was your idea or your spouse's, and whether you're merely considering ending your marriage or have already filed paperwork, you may be dreading the thought of court. You may even have begun your divorce proceedings with the best of intentions, hoping to make the process as amicable as possible. Perhaps, you've given some thought to - or even already attempted - mediation.
Sometimes, though, there's simply nothing more you can do. You've made your best efforts; however, the same differences that led to the end of your marriage are the ones that make it impossible to reach an agreement through mediation, thus litigation becomes a necessity. Few people envision their marriage ending in a court of law so it can be difficult to prepare either mentally or physically for this eventuality. There are, however, some basic pieces of advice that can help make the process smoother from beginning to end.
Advice for your date in court
Whether you've been trying any means available to avoid ending up in front of a judge, or whether you're pleased you're finally going to get your day in court, it's important to make the best of this opportunity. Unfair though it may seem, one slip-up can throw off the proceedings or tip the ruling unfavorably against you. So while some of the following pieces of advice may sound basic and even obvious, it can help to concentrate on the following:
- Know exactly where the courthouse is so that you can arrive early.
- Be prepared with everything you'll need since you can expect to spend your day there.
- Dress and act as professionally and respectfully as possible.
Even if you're pretty sure you know where the courthouse is and how long it takes to get there, you're most likely going to be under a lot of additional pressure that day. It's advisable to know exactly where you're going and to allow extra time to arrive ahead of schedule in case of issues like weather, traffic or parking difficulties. Arriving early with all necessary documents - including ID, which you'll need to enter the courthouse - is not only advisable, it's almost essential because once you're there, you likely won't be able to leave.
Likewise, neither will you be able to use your cell phone to cancel appointments or let anyone know you'll be late. So it's best to clear your schedule for the entire day. The day will be stressful enough without worrying whether you're going to miss a meeting, and you'll want to free up your thoughts to concentrate on making the best impression possible by dressing appropriately and remaining calm and respectful, as doing so can go a long way toward helping your lawyer secure a favorable outcome for you.
Let your lawyer do the talking
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you'll want to avoid any outbursts or disorderly conduct whatsoever. It can be very difficult, it's true, to remain silent if you believe your ex or the other attorney is bad-mouthing you or if you feel as though the proceedings are going unfavorably. However, the court looks very negatively upon displays of temper or even speaking out of turn during legal proceedings, so it's always advisable to exercise self-control and manners to the best of your ability.
Instead, if you begin feeling frustrated, try to remember that you will get your own turn to speak, or - even better - to let your lawyer plead your case. It's always advisable to let your lawyer do the talking, as that is, after all, why you hired an attorney in the first place. An experienced California divorce attorney will do the worrying for you, and following his or her guidance and counsel is likely your best means for securing positive results.