The CRC has prepared these tips in an effort to make your day in court a productive one. Attorneys founded the CRC and continue to advise on the Board of Trustees. Here they share years of gained wisdom with you. These tips will help your case, but of course they cannot apply to every situation you'll encounter. Please refer to our disclaimer.
- If you have an attorney, let your counsel speak. Unless directed otherwise, the Judge does not want to hear all the reasons why you think you’re right and the other party is not.
- If asked to speak in court, address the Judge as “Your Honor”. Regardless of your personal opinion, the Judge has earned the title and respect to wear the robe of his office to decide your case.
- Take control of any hostility or other negative emotions when you enter the courtroom and always be respectful of the Judge and his Court. It will not help your case to respond in any other manner, and could lead you to be found in contempt along with the unpleasantness that accompanies such a ruling.
- Unless responding to a direct question when giving testimony, do not speak or make any comments to the other party or their counsel when you are in the courtroom.
- Do not dramatize reactions to what anyone may say in Court by making facial or body gestures.
- Dress appropriately. Consult your attorney if a certain strategy will be exercised on how you should be portrayed. Otherwise, “dress for success”. It will demonstrate a respect for the Judge and a serious appreciation for the purpose of the law.
- Exercise that motto: “Be prepared”. Bring as much information, documentation and any pertinent documents that you possibly can with you; and make sure it is organized. It is better to have too much supporting information than get caught short and unable to substantiate a part of your claim.
- Take notes. Your attorney will be very busy during the process and cannot remember everything said or immediately write it down. This is your case, don't leave anything to chance.
- Unless the Court or your attorney has instructed you differently, do not bring your children into the courtroom. This is your dispute, not your children's. They love you both and should not have to hear all the gory details of what goes on in the courtroom.
- Do not bring electronic devices to Court, and be sure to turn off your cellular phone before entering the courtroom.
- Most courts will allow reading materials so do bring a book, crossword puzzle, magazine or other quiet items to occupy your time since it may be a long wait before your case is heard.
Preparing for your case to be heard in court is often a long and strenuous task. It is filled with many hours collecting information, negotiating agreements, coping with feelings, trying to consider the best interest of your children, and anxiously worrying about the judge’s decision. It’s a frightening situation and every parent has a right to be worried.
Now that the Court is involved, things will also be very different and quite intimidating than your previous attempts to construct a mutual agreement through your attorney. You released control of your ability to make demands and concessions to the decision-making of a Judge the moment you entered the courtroom.
Judges are Human
However impartial that Judge may want to be, they are still a stranger to you and your children, usually having little or no advance in-depth awareness of the particular nuances of your case being presented in Court. Moreover, and despite some opinions to the contrary, a Judge is still subject to the same human faults as you or any other person. They can be having a “bad day” and prone to mood swings, illogical conclusions, distractions in their personal life, previous poor experience with your attorney, or a host of other things to affect the way things transpire in the courtroom.
Do not expect the Judge to make the "right" decision. There are three perspectives the Judge can consider when making a decision: your way, your spouse's way, or the Judge's way. Already, that’s a 2 out of 3 chance things will not go in your favor. But since you’ve decided that the Court is the best option to settle your dispute, here are some important tips to help you get through the process, and potentially influence a better decision – or at least not make things worse.