If you are in the midst of a divorce and want the process to go as smoothly as possible, keep in mind these six simple — and avoidable — courtroom mistakes:
- Not having proper legal representation. Most people only have a basic understanding of the law. For these people, divorce proceedings in a courtroom are foreign territory, which leaves a lot of room for mistakes and missteps that could have costly consequences. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, the specifics of your case, what to expect from the judge, how to present your argument and other valuable information.
- Coming to court unprepared and without all of the correct paperwork. Being fully prepared for divorce proceedings means knowing everything about your assets and liabilities and having the proper documentation for it, knowing whether you will need and whether you are entitled to spousal support. If you have children, you will also need to have considered how you want to share time, including holidays, as well as additional financial considerations not defined in a child support order. It is also important to have clear answers to questions the judge might ask.
- Showing up late to court. Family law judges are often very busy, with a large volume of cases they need to hear in a short period of time. Showing up late not only eats away at a judge’s already precious time, it may indicate to the judge that you do not care about the situation or outcome, which may factor into a judge’s ruling.
- Making unrealistic or excessive demands. No one is expecting you to become an expert in family law overnight, but you should be aware of what is within the scope of the law. Asking for too much in a divorce settlement or requesting an unreasonable amount of spousal support can come off as greedy, which can frustrate or annoy the judge that is hearing your case.
- Not following proper courtroom etiquette. Everything from forgetting to turn off your cellphone during courtroom proceedings to disrespecting the judge or other courtroom personnel is not only disrupting to the people around you, it is also against courtroom etiquette. Remember: first impressions are everything and can go a long way during divorce proceedings.
- Failing to keep your emotions in check. It is hard not to be emotional during divorce proceedings, especially if your marriage is ending on bad terms. However, family law judges are looking for reasonable solutions; they do not have time for name calling and he-said-she-said arguments. Keep your emotions in check and leave your anger at home.
While there is no guarantee your divorce will go smoothly, avoiding these common mistakes can go a long way to ensuring a more positive experience and resolution.