During the divorce process, mistakes are inevitable, especially when you let your emotions take control and cloud your vision.
Unless you and your soon to be ex-spouse reach an agreement to settle, your case and the outcome of your divorce is governed by one person and one person alone… the judge. There is no divorce by jury, or a pool of your peers, the judge assigned to your case has the ultimate control.
Even if you do end up settling, which most cases do, you likely will appear before a judge more times than you care to count until a settlement is reached.
Remember, there are unwritten rules of divorce court and if your judge forms a negative opinion about you early in your divorce, you could be in for even a longer and more stressful ride.
- Don’t be disrespectful to anyone – this includes your spouse, the judge and the lawyers.When you’re in court, you need to be mindful of that at all times. Even when you don’t think the judge is paying attention to you, he/she is. If the judge feels you are being disrespectful to anyone, you will likely suffer the negative impact from that. Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the judge when he/she is speaking. Counting to ten or taking a deep breath before speaking will allow you to think before you say something you may regret.
- How you dress determines what Judges think about you.Court is considered a formal venue. You wouldn’t wear sweatpants to a job interview so don’t wear them to court. In the beginning my anger and emotions were still raw and like most of us I did things out without thinking, such as wearing a hooded sweatshirt to Court. No matter how angry you are do not do things that will only discredit you. In a divorce proceeding, maybe the most important piece of evidence you have is your creditability.
- Don’t tell Judges what they should think or insult their intelligence. Judges are people too and people don’t like to be told what to do or what to think. Judges are highly educated individuals and they all feel they are equipped to read between the lines and see the “truth.” If you’re not an attorney, and even sometimes when you are, they don’t want you to tell them how they should feel about a particular issue. If you do or say something to rub the judge the wrong way, or make him/her feel like you think they don’t know what they’re doing, you will have an uphill battle ahead of you.
- Don’t suggest outlandish solutions to the issues.Many contested divorces involve sensitive issues and high emotions on both sides. If children are involved, that takes it up another level. Judges want the parties to negotiate and settle the issues between themselves. Judges don’t want to decide how you live your life for you and if they do, you likely will not be satisfied with their ruling. Try to be reasonable. If one party files a motion for relief, whether for financial support or primary custody, if the judge feels that you are being unreasonable, you will not get the results you want. If the judge sees you are attempting to be reasonable when your spouse is not, then that will go a long way if the judge ends up having to decide.
Remember although emotions run high and it’s very easy to say or do something you may later regret, try to stop and think before acting – Every action has a reaction.