When going through a divorce, the best case scenario is that everyone remains amicable and the need for litigation is avoided.
However, if litigation is inevitable, both sides at least want to try to come out of the process financially secure. These are common mistakes, all of which are avoidable, but all of which almost always end up costing you when going to court:
1. Going to court without a lawyer
In our practice we see this time and time again, and this is by far the number one mistake when going through a divorce. You certainly can manage without a lawyer and in most cases will come out fine, but good lawyers who are in court often will almost always know the procedures, etiquette, judge’s preferences and definite dislikes, and a multitude of other small things that can be invaluable. A big mistake unrepresented parties think is that they will have multiple bites at the apple, when in reality, you often only have one chance at a favorable result for the particular issue you are in court for. It is important to get a good and experienced lawyer, or at least consult with one prior to court in order to better understand the process and prepare for what to expect.
2. Not bringing all of your paperwork to court
If you are in court, you are either asking the judge for something or contesting something that your spouse has asked for. You need to be prepared to either prove your position or be able to contest your spouse’s position. That requires bringing all relevant paperwork with you to court, being organized, and being prepared to answer any and all questions the judge may have for you.
3. Not meeting with or talking to your lawyer about an upcoming court appearance ahead of time
Court appearances, especially a trial, bring many unknowns for most people. Learning what to expect is incredibly important, as is keeping your lawyer completely updated prior to court in order to avoid as many unwelcome surprises as possible.
4. Dressing inappropriately
Whether it seems fair or not, appearances count. It is important to provide the court and the judges due respect, and that includes not walking into court looking like a hot mess. Judges are human too and first impressions matter.
5. Making unreasonable demands
Judges are always looking for reasonable solutions. It is important that people understand this prior to walking into court, particularly family court. Emotions run incredibly high during a divorce and it is easy to lose sight of what is reasonable. A good and experienced lawyer should make sure that you understand this, rather than telling you what you want to hear just to make you feel better or cause you to incur further fees.
6. Not turning off your cell phone before going into court
There is nothing that irritates judges more than a cell phone going off in the middle of court. Just turn it off. It is disrespectful to the judge and everyone else in the courtroom.
7. Interrupting the judge
It cannot be stressed enough what a big no-no this is. Interrupting a judge while they are talking will get you nowhere fast. You can write down what you want to say so that you don’t forget, but nothing infuriates a judge more than talking over them. It is very difficult to hold back, however the judge will give you or your lawyer the opportunity to speak so there is no benefit to interrupting anyone while in court.
8. Giving the court clerk or other courtroom attendants attitude
The judge may be making the decisions, but the court clerk and the other courtroom attendants are just as important. If you disrespect them, you disrespect the entire courtroom and the judge. They are there to make sure everything is running smoothly and the way the judge wants it so follow their rules.
9. Being angry
Judges do not like it when people get angry in their courtroom, even if it is absolutely justified. Be polite and respectful. Even if you are 100% right to be angry, present your argument with politeness and respect for the court.
At Argyris Mah, LLP, we can help navigate all of the complexities of your family law case, including representing you at or preparing you for court appearances. Contact our office for a free initial consultation at (408) 564-5674 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.