Most couples prefer to settle their divorce themselves, with the guidance of their divorce attorneys, and to stay out of court. However, sometimes there are issues that couples cannot resolve. In those cases, they need to present their case to a judge, who will decide the matter(s) at hand.
If you find yourself asking a family court judge for a decision, it's important to remember that, while they have to follow the law, they are human. They will likely be influenced by how you present yourself and your case, even though your attorney will be by your side.
Judges, just like everyone else, size people up in a few seconds. The longer and more often you're in the judge's courtroom, the greater chance he or she has to form an opinion of you. Following are some important things to remember.
That doesn't mean that you need to go to Brooks Brothers or Neiman Marcus to buy new clothes. However, dress as you would for a job interview. Show respect for where you are. Even if you're trying to convince the judge that you need more alimony than your spouse is offering, showing up in a t-shirt and jeans isn't going to help you.
Don't Tell the Judge What to Think
No matter how strongly you feel about the matter, no judge wants to be told what the "right" decision is. They're well-educated in the law and are where they are because of their assumed decision-making abilities. Let your attorney advise you how best to make your case if you're asked to speak.
Be Respectful of Everyone in the Courtroom
That includes your spouse, his or her attorney and the court staff. No matter how angry and upset you are, don't let that impact your behavior. Never interrupt the judge or anyone else who is speaking. That may work on Law and Order occasionally, but not in real life.
If you're asking for sole custody when there's no reason for your spouse not to see your child, for example, you won't succeed. Again, this is where you need to listen to your attorney. If a judge believes you won't be happy with anything short of a solution that only serves your purposes, he or she likely won't take you seriously.
Divorce attorneys have a good deal more experience with family law judges than their clients. Therefore, it's essential to work with your attorney to determine how best to present your case before you go into court and to trust his or her advice. This is likely a highly emotional time for you, and it's necessary to rely on cooler heads.
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