Most couples are able to have a collaborative divorce and come to an agreement about asset division, alimony, co-parenting, and other important matters out of court. But in some cases, divorce court is necessary to fight for your rights.
If you end up heading to divorce court, here are a few common mistakes to avoid.
Not hiring a lawyer.
Yes, a lawyer costs money, but if you don’t hire one, you may end up losing more than you save.
Lawyers understand the process, the procedures, and the ins and outs of the law. They help protect your rights, fight for your wishes, and ensure your divorce is fair and equitable.
If you really can’t afford to have a lawyer represent you in court, at least consult with one ahead of time.
Not being prepared.
When the judge requests documentation to back up a claim, you better have it ready. Otherwise, it will harm your case. For example, if you are requesting alimony or child support, you may need to have information on hand about your income and expenses, such as pay stubs or bank account statements.
If you hired a lawyer, they will walk you through everything and ensure you have what you need for court.
Not talking to your lawyer in advance.
You want to be on the same page about your situation and your goals.
Everything may not go as expected during trial. By arming your lawyer with as much information as possible in advance, you can improve your chances at a positive outcome.
Not practicing for court.
Divorce court can be intimidating, particularly if you are not familiar with the process. By practicing, you can ensure you’re at your best for your appearance.
Your lawyer can go over the types of questions you will be asked. You should practice your responses several times to ensure you know what to say – and what not to say.
Not dressing appropriately.
Appearances matter. Think about the message what you’re wearing sends to the judge. Do you look like someone responsible, honest, and trustworthy?
Consider conservative business attire and closed-toe shoes. If you’re uncertain what to wear, consult with your lawyer.
Not turning off your cell phone.
Judges are often overworked and overbooked, so their time is valuable. If the proceedings are disrupted by the ringing of your phone, it won’t leave them in a good mood. It will be even worse if you actually pick it up.
Do yourself a favor – turn your phone off before entering the courtroom. If you absolutely must have it on, set it to silent mode and only answer in an emergency situation.
Not waiting for your turn to speak.
Interrupting a judge is one of the best ways to anger them.
If you are afraid you won’t remember what you want to say, jot it down on a piece of paper. Then wait until the judge has finished to have your say.
Not keeping your cool.
Tensions often run high in a divorce. But keep that anger out of the courtroom.
Even if you are in the right, bitter words or angry outbursts won’t go over well with the judge. Instead, be polite, respectful, and reasonable. If you find yourself getting angry, take a few deep breaths and regain composure before speaking.