Whenever you are involved in a lawsuit, there is a very real possibility that you will end up in court at some point during the process.
Although divorce court may seem like a very intimidating place, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate the fear and present the best case, including:
Plan for litigation
From the first day of any lawsuit, start thinking about being in the courtroom. This is important because you want to plan your words and your actions carefully so that they cannot be used against you in court.
A good rule of thumb is that everything you say and write is being recorded, so make sure you do not mind having someone unintended read or listen.
Prepare for litigation
Court appearances are very similar to plays; they are mostly scripted performances and are intended to impart a particular story.
Imagine preparing for court as similar to an actor rehearsing his or her lines. You want to know what you need to say and be prepared for what the opposition is going throw your way. The more you are prepared, the more natural you will appear to be when telling your side of the story.
When preparing for court with your attorney, make sure to ask a lot of questions. If your attorney is not covering everything you want, ask questions, and make sure that you understand the answers.
The worst thing that you can do is walk into a courtroom confused or unsure about what you need to do or say.
Understand the role that you play for your litigation
In a play, each character performs a role in furthering the story, and court is exactly the same.
You need to understand what role you will play in furthering your case, and by understanding this, you should be able to give an answer which does not hurt your case if you are caught off guard.
Dress the part
As stated above, court appearances are very similar to plays. As in a play, what you wear can be very important to telling your story and strengthening your case.
If you are claiming that you are homeless, you do not want to dress like a successful businessman — it would simply confuse the court and take credibility away from your claim.
Speak clearly and slowly
No matter how much you practice and how precise your words may be, they are worthless if no one understands them.
You have to make sure that everything you say can be heard and understood by everyone in the courtroom.
Be respectful to everyone, not just your attorney
When you are in court, you must remember it is the opposing attorney’s job to beat you. He or she does not personally dislike you, they are just doing their job.
There is never a reason to be disrespectful towards the other attorney or the judge, even if you feel like they are being disrespectful to you.
Understand your own body language
When you are in court everyone is watching you. For that reason, it is important to understand what your body language says.
You want to practice your testimony with your attorney so that he or she can give you feedback on your total performance and not just the words that you are saying.
Control emotional outbursts
Remember, it is the job of the other attorney to beat you and the goal of the other party to win. Sometimes things will be said that may elicit strong emotional responses or the other side may be lying.
You have to remember that emotional outbursts do not further your case. Remain calm, and when you get the chance, tell your attorney what is bothering you.
Show the appropriate level of emotion
While it is important to control emotional outburst, it is equally important to show the right level of emotion at the right time.
An example would be sobbing when talking about a child passing away. This would be an expected emotion and would likely help further your case.
This is just a simple 10-step list to get someone started for being prepared for court. As can be seen, preparation and control are probably the two most important aspects of any courtroom performance.
By practicing with your attorney and figuring out what to expect during your court appearances, you can be better prepared for when you must stand before the judge and present the best case possible.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”