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Getting Ready for Divorce Court

When facing the prospect of a divorce trial or related proceeding, it is normal to be nervous, frustrated or unsure. What you may not know is that the ways in which you either control or fail to control these emotions in court may affect the ultimate outcome of your case.

While your divorce attorney will undoubtedly advise you of ways in which you should and should not behave before a judge, there are several commonsense tips that you can keep in mind in addition to your advocate's advice.

First, be aware of the ways in which you are presenting yourself physically. The courtroom is a professional place. When in doubt, dress and behave professionally. If you arrive in ripped jeans, an offensive or suggestive shirt or reeking of smoke, this will likely affect the judge's opinion of you.

In addition, professionalism is synonymous with respect. Respect for yourself, the people you are interacting with and respect for the space in which the proceedings are being held. Respectful behaviors to keep in mind include:

  • Listening: listen without muttering, rolling your eyes or speaking out of turn
  • Speaking: when it is your turn to speak, speak clearly, politely, briefly and honestly
  • Waiting: wait patiently until your case is called, as the judge can easily form opinions based on your courtroom behavior, even before proceedings have begun
  • Support: if you would like to have one or two people present as a support system, that is fine... fifteen of your friends and family is excessive

In an emotionally charged situation like divorce court, it is easy to lose your cool. However, keeping your emotions in check and behaving professionally and respectfully will ultimately aid you in the ultimate outcome of your case.

Source: "My Top Ten List of What Not to Do in Divorce Court," Huffington Post, 11/21/11

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