First off, you should expect that the judge expects you to be prepared to present your case. Keep in mind that these judges have very busy dockets. They don’t know you from the next person, so when you go into court, you’ve got tell the judge your story. You have to clearly and effectively communicate your situation, what you want, and why, so you need to be prepared to present your case.
The next thing you should expect when going to divorce court is making sure that your exhibits are arranged, they’re in order, that you are presenting all the documents to the judge for his or her review. The judge can only consider evidence that’s been presented to him or her, so if you have documents that support your position, you need to make sure that they are organized, that they are labeled, that they are marked, and that also you are in compliance with the case management order that the court has issued. Every court is going to issue a case management order and/or a trial management order that’s going to outline your responsibilities in presenting and preparing your case for court. You need to be in compliant with the case management order.
Part of that involves preparing what is known as a trial management certificate. If one of the parties is represented by an attorney, that attorney is going to be expected to prepare a draft of a trial management certificate that includes both parties sides in that document. The purpose of that document is to apprise the court regarding the relief that you’re requesting and why. Judges typically read that document a few days in advance of the hearing so that they know what you’re asking for, because they have to be prepared as well. If you don’t have an attorney and you are needing to go to court, you will expected to present what we call a trial position statement, which is essentially the same thing. You are outlining what you’re asking the court to do.
On the day of court, you need to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get there, to park, to get through security, and that you are appropriately dressed. You want to show respect to the tribunal and the court, so you want to make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothes. I say church clothes, so that you look nice, you look professional. You want to be on time. You want to be respectful to the court. It is very helpful if you have an attorney. If you have contested issues, it really is honestly foolish to go through a hearing without legal representation, especially if they involve children, because you can’t do the same level of preparation and representation as a professional attorney can do that has been doing this for many years. If you have a situation where you think you’re going to need to go to court, please get in contact with us and make an appointment to come in for a consultation.
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