Even in the best situation, any type of family law proceeding or hearing can be very stressful. You may feel as though your future with your children is on the line. This may be true to an extent, but knowing how to present yourself in a family law court for the best chance of an acceptable divorce or custody agreement can ease your mind. The following tips can help you prepare for family law court so you can enter the situation with more confidence.
Research the Court and the Law for Your Case
Even if you have an attorney, it’s wise to research the court where your hearing will take place, as well as the judge who will preside over it. Judges have a legal obligation to be impartial in their rulings, but all judges can potentially lean toward awarding custody to one parent or another for various reasons. Researching your judge can help you determine the points of the case he or she will focus on the most so you can prepare accordingly.
You should also understand the specific family laws that will apply in your case. A judge will likely respect you for taking the time to research the law and offering competent and informed testimony during your hearing, and this will work in your favor.
Be Civil and Reasonable
Divorces happen for many reasons. Your ex-spouse may have done terrible things to you, but unless he or she presents a clear danger to your children, or has a criminal record, then your ex has a right to participate in your children’s lives. Be mindful of your tone when speaking during any family law hearings and show a willingness to work with your ex for the best interests of your children. Remember, if your ex becomes combative or argumentative during a family law hearing and you keep a level head the judge will likely look more favorably on your position. Attempting to “fight fire with fire” will only make things worse for everyone involved.
Remember that perception is very important in all family law hearings. A judge will be scrutinizing the couple to look for any signs of bad faith or resentment that could impact parenting ability. Refrain from speaking negatively about your ex, and if the judge asks questions about any of your ex’s past bad behavior, try to remain as objective as possible.
Make Sure You and Your Filings Are on Time
It’s a good idea to arrive at court early for all family law hearings and proceedings. Arriving late or unprepared does not reflect well on you in front of a judge. It’s also important to make sure to file all of your required paperwork on time and in full. If you have difficulty with any of the paperwork you will need to complete, an experienced divorce attorney can be a tremendous help.
Missing a hearing or failing to meet a filing deadline could jeopardize your position in a custody or divorce negotiation. Do whatever you can to meet your deadlines and never miss a court appearance. If you have special circumstances or a legitimate issue prevents you from making a hearing you may be able to petition the court to reschedule.
Work Toward Your Child’s Best Interests
The court has a legal duty to rule in favor of the best interests of children in divorce cases. This means you should always display a willingness to work with your ex when it comes to the safety and well-being of your children. A divorce may be a bitter and stressful experience, but it’s vital to put your personal feelings aside when it comes to family law proceedings. You may resent your ex for a number of possible reasons, but unless he or she has proven to be an unfit parent, your children deserve a relationship with both of their parents.