Many couples who file for divorce choose to resolve any areas in a dispute using mediation or other alternate dispute resolution techniques. However, couples may not see eye to eye on some crucial areas, such as custody or dividing assets. This leads to litigation before a judge. This more formal approach has the benefit of leaving decisions to an impartial third party, but it can add stress to the situation.
Stressful situations can bring out the worst in some people. Bad or disrespectful behavior can reflect poorly on the individual or attorney – judges are professional and impartial. Still, as the person evaluating your credibility and case, they are the wrong person to irritate or annoy during a hearing.
Tips for proper behavior
Here are some general suggestions that the client’s attorney can supplement if they are familiar with the judge’s likes and dislikes:
- Follow the rules: Observe courtroom etiquette at all times. It is also helpful to act fully engaged in the proceedings and not to be disruptive.
- Stay calm: Keep emotions tamped down regardless of what is going on. It is best to keep quiet unless spoken to and not talk out of turn.
- Be clear and confident: Answer questions to the best of your ability in a strong, confident voice. If you do not know the answer, say so.
- Show up early: People wait weeks for their hearing, so it makes no sense to show up late. It also allows the client time to go over last-minute details with their attorney.
- Dress appropriately: Businesslike attire shows those involved that you take the proceedings seriously.
Keep the final goal in mind
It is important to evaluate the option of litigation with an attorney when discussing the circumstances involved in the divorce during the initial consultation. While litigation is more expensive and confrontational than other techniques, sometimes it is the only way to secure a fair and equitable agreement. Clients and attorneys must agree on this course of action if the partnership is to be a successful one.