A courtroom can be a scary place, even for people who have done nothing wrong. Courtrooms themselves are typically grand and ornate, the judge sits above everyone, and the attorneys already seem so familiar with the surroundings. Everyone but you, it may seem, is at ease, and now someone you have never met is going to be making a major decision involving you and your family. If you are involved in a divorce, a Houston family lawyer can put you at ease and help you prepare for your divorce proceedings.
Specific Ways to Prepare for a Divorce Court Appearance
- Work closely with your family law attorney before you even step foot in the courtroom. The fewer surprises that occur in the courtroom, the better it is for your case. A good attorney will help you iron out contentious issues before you appear before a judge.
- When you are on the witness stand, only respond when you both hear and understand the question that the attorney asks you. A classic example is the question: “Did you participate in the meeting?” “Participate in the meeting” could mean just attending it, or it could mean giving a presentation. It is difficult to understand the question. Do not hesitate to tell the attorney you do not understand the question, or ask him or her to repeat it.
- Remember “I don’t know” is a proper and perfectly fine answer to question. You should not feel pressured to respond with an extreme answer — “yes”, “no”, “always” or “never”.
- Do not speak unless the judge recognizes you. If you have something to say and are representing yourself, simply standing up will give the judge notice that you wish to address the court.
- Be respectful to the judge and court, in general. Address the judge as “Your Honor”, and thank him or her when you finish addressing the court. Act professionally even if your spouse resorts to hostile and negative comments. You do not want to annoy or anger the court and the judge when he or she is going to be deciding you family’s future situation.
- Dress appropriately and conservatively. People have different ideas of what “business attire” is, so look at the attorneys and dress as they do. Attorneys have told stories of telling their clients to dress in their “Sunday best” only to have their clients show up in immodest clothes that the clients may in fact consider their Sunday best.
- Avoid taking children into the courtroom. If they are young, they often cause a disruption. Children do not need to hear what is going on in a divorce proceeding. However, in some instances, attorneys will call children to testify during a proceeding.
- Part of your attorney’s duty is to help you be as prepared as possible. You should bring all documents, correspondence, and records even remotely related to the case in order to enable the judge to find in your favor.
- Be wary of compound questions (that is, those with multiple parts). Generally, these questions may have something that is true in the beginning and in the end sandwiching less clear issues in between. You should answer them by parting them out and specifically saying, “As to such and such part, yes.” and so on.
The job of an experienced family law attorney is to have your in-court divorce appearances go as smoothly as possible. The only way this can happen is through hard work and preparation on both the client’s and the attorney’s part. If you are involved in a forthcoming divorce case, contact a Houston divorce attorney at John K. Grubb & Associates, PC to learn more about how to prepare for your court appearances.