Going through a divorce is one of the most traumatic events in anyone's life. The legal system is confusing, to say the least. In a divorce everyone puts his and her lives in the hands of a stranger wearing a black robe. A judge is an elected, or in some instances, appointed official, who decides everything about your life in a divorce, including where your children will live, how much child support will be paid, whether or not and how much alimony will be paid, as well as how your property is handled. This includes the division of all assets and debts. When you go before a judge, you lose control over these major decisions impacting upon your lives and the lives of your children.
I have told my clients over the years that there are at least five variables in every divorce. The first variable is who you are, your reason for wanting to save or end the marriage. The second variable is your spouse, and his or her perspective and reasons for wanting to save or end the marriage. The third variable is your attorney, and how knowledgeable and experienced and what his or her approach is. The fourth variable is the opposing attorney. The fifth is the judge. Think about all of these variables before deciding whether or not to go to trial. In most instances, you can achieve a better result through negotiation, mediation, or settlement, than through trial. Once you are in trial, you will be saying things that you cannot take back. This can create tremendous damage, not only to yourself and your spouse, but also to your children.
If you do decide to go the court route, following are some do's and don'ts for court appearances based upon my many years of experience in the court room.