Going through a divorce is tough. You’re already dealing with the emotional fallout of separating from your loved one, and now you have to deal with an actual court hearing.
If this prospect fills you with anxiety and dread, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Divorce hearings can be scary, especially because there is so much at stake. Not only are you headed into the professional world of lawyers and the unknown, but you are also at risk of losing your finances or potentially the custody of your children.
Whether your divorce is going civilly or is beyond complicated, it isn’t a fun experience for anyone involved.
Don’t stress, you can make it through divorce court without losing your mind. To feel comfortable in the courtroom, you’ll need some divorce advice, and you’ll need to educate yourself about how a court works and what will be expected of you. Follow these tips to get through your hearing in one piece.
Get To Court Early
Getting to your hearing may require security checks. There may also be traffic and other complications such as a change of venue that get in the way of your meeting. Whatever the case, it’s always best to get to court early so that you have a good idea about what’s going on. It may also make you feel more comfortable in your surroundings to get there before your scheduled appointment.
Stay On Topic
Most court hearings last only two hours, at most. This is not a lot of time to discuss the separation of an entire marriage. Given the allotted time, keep in mind that not everything that is of concern to you will be of concern to the judge. That means it’s important to stay clear, focused, and on-topic to get the most out of your hearing.
Understand Divorce Takes A Long Time
Getting a divorce is not easy, especially if you and your STBX disagree about some fundamentals such as who gets what, child-custody arrangements, or what finances or debts fall to whom.
Do not be surprised if your case gets continued. And continued. And continued.
Well, you get the idea. No matter how prepared you are, you should expect your divorce to take several meetings at court before it’s finalized.
Expect To Do A Lot Of Waiting
Court schedules are not set in stone. You may arrive early and on time, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get in to see the judge right away. No, court involves a lot of waiting around, as there are many other couples waiting for a hearing at the same time as yours. Carve out at least half a day in the courthouse when attending a hearing.
A court is a government establishment. It is very formal and requires a certain level of respect. You can do your part of bringing a respectful ambiance to the meeting by dressing the part. Your clothes should be neat, unwrinkled, and tidy. Your dress and grooming should also reflect a presentable appearance.
Wear a suit or dress, or at the very least a button up shirt and slacks. This will show the judge that you respect their authority and their court.
Keep Your Emotions At Bay
When you enter the court, you should be prepared to see your spouse. This may bring up some hurt feelings. When they are testifying or answering questions, you may feel the overwhelming urge to yell or argue with them – but don’t! Keep your feelings at bay. All they will do is stall your hearing and cause unnecessary drama.
It’s important that your demeanor is calm and your credibility is intact during your hearing. It will reflect very well on you to keep your cool.
Studies show that writing can have a cathartic effect on people. It’s a release of emotions that make you feel lighter and less stressed out. Before your hearing, you may find it helpful to journal about your feelings so that you can work through such distracting emotions without letting them get in the way of your court hearing.
Answer Questions Honestly
When answering questions, do not try to outsmart your ex’s lawyer or double-talk your way out of awkward details of your marriage. When under oath, you must answer truthfully.
It is also important that you not lie about your spouse or make things up on the stand in an effort to please your lawyer. If you don’t understand the question, say so. If you do, give an honest answer. Never make one up!
Talk to your lawyer about anything and everything you can that is relevant to your case. This will help you have a better idea of how the hearing will go and what is expected of you.
It is also important to know the rules of the court before you get there. For example, you are not allowed to bring weapons into the courtroom. This one may seem like a no-brainer. But, did you know that most courtrooms do not allow cell phones, laptops, coffee, bags, and many other things into the hearing? These are good things to know before you enter your hearing.
Seeing your spouse in court is never easy. That’s why it’s so important to follow our divorce advice for your hearing and get informed about how the court will proceed. Communicate openly with your lawyer, find a way to soothe your anxiety, and keep your emotions at bay. These tips will help you navigate your stressful divorce hearing.
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.