There's no denying it, divorce court is sucky. Taking your spouse to court is not fun, especially if you have children together. Splitting of the assets is one thing, but when it comes to splitting of the children it is quite another. Hang tough, you will get through this phase and eventually you will find some common ground with your ex, it just takes tickety-tock, time.
Going to divorce court for the very first time can be a life-altering ordeal. Sitting before a judge with your spouse is never easy. It is a humbling experience and one you never wish to repeat. Yet, the process surprises many people because they simply did not know what to expect.
No body prepares you for court really. It is one of those things that you have to fully experience to understand. Some counties are now trying to alleviate some of the first court jitters by requiring divorcing couples to attend an orientation session before their actual court date to discuss custody and the splitting of assets. Kudos to those counties now doing this; however, now you can have two days of loose stool instead of one. I mean it is a nerve racking ordeal to see your ex in court or even orientation for court.
In today's entry I would like to point out a few of the unspoken things no orientation can prepare you for. For example, who's writing the etiquette manual on this anyway? When your day in court is over and it is time to exit the building here's what no one warns you about...you and your ex have probably parked your cars in the same vicinity and guess what? You get to walk all the way out to your cars together as if total strangers. Or, worse yet, if your ex has no common sense, they will try to strike up an argument about the outcome in court from 10 paces behind you. My advice to you, is get all your paperwork done then and there and then run like your hair's on fire to your car. Ask for an escort if you feel unsafe and avoid contact with your ex at all cost this day.
1. Debunking the Preconceived Notions about Divorce Court
People have preconceived notions about what goes on in divorce court. We envision a long drawn out battle with attorneys taking the floor and submitting photos taken by an undercover agent catching our ex in the act. As much as you would like to believe the judge cares if our ex slept around, or burned your belongings, they don’t. Here are a few preconceived notions we have.
- I will look better if I make my ex look bad. Quite the opposite happens if this is your approach. Let the facts speak for themselves. Just remember family court judges have heard it all. You hope for an empathetic judge, but you must realize it is just another day in court for them.
- I will get to take the stand. It doesn’t work like that. No one is on trial here. You and your ex sit before the judge and he goes through the division of your assets, and if you have children, the custody arrangements too.
- We have a court date; therefore, we will be the only ones in the court room. Yeah, you and about 25 other couples! Yours is not the only case du jour. There will be a room full of other divorcing couples and the judge only has a few minutes to hear your case. You are truly part of a cattle call and if the judge can get through most of them by lunchtime, it will be a good day! Oh yeah, and because you are part of a cattle call, you will get to hear everyone’s dirty laundry and they will get to hear yours.
2. The Courtroom Experience (before, during, and after)
- Be prepared. Get all your paperwork in order. Submit all documents to the court you intend to discuss that day. Serve all papers that need to be served. Practice what you want to say and achieve.
- Be and look professional. You want to make a good first impression with the judge and this is the fastest way you can do that.
- Get there early.
During - The Do’s/Don’ts of how to act.
Know it is going to be awkward. Sitting there in court with your soon-to-be ex is never comfortable. A good judge should be mindful of this, but some forget. It is okay to let the judge know this is difficult for you.
- Don’t talk over or interrupt your ex. Let them complete their sentence.
- Do ask for permission to speak
- Do address the judge as “Your Honor"
- Don’t loose your temper or say something snide
- Avoid each other. Know that it will be emotional. Tempers may flair.
- Avoiding each other may be hard to do when you are parked near each other and walk out at the same time. Ask for an escort if you feel threatened.
3. How To Alleviate the Stress of Going to Court
Sit in on a few cases days before your case is to be heard. You will see how fast cases are heard and you will see what the judge faces every single day. You will get to see the room you will be in and how the process works.
4. Tips for handling the judge’s decisions
Try not to despair. Just because things maybe didn’t go your way in court, doesn’t mean that later you can’t work out a different arrangement. Nothing is forever and things always have a way of working themselves out. And if things went your way in court, then maintain your professionalism and don’t jump up and down. Be considerate of your ex’s position.
5. Top 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Divorce Judge Regarding Child Support (Tomi’s List).
10. That’s too much child support, I can’t afford that. I’d have to get a second job!
9. I don’t have a job.
8. I’m livin’ in my car and you want me to pay their medical insurance? So what if I drive
7. Why don’t I just pay for her boob job too?
6. It doesn’t cost that much to feed those brats!
5. The ultimate denial, “They’re not my kids!”
4, Your Honor, he gets paid under the table, I know because we faked our tax return.
3. That’s a lie!
2. I don’t mean to interrupt you judge, but…
1. And the number 1 thing you should never say after you’ve been awarded child support is……..Yaba Daba Doo!