Any time you go to court, you should remember that it is very important to make a good impression on the judge. It seems obvious enough, but for many couples going through divorce, simply being in the same room (especially in such an adversarial setting) is enough to make normal, otherwise responsible adults break down and behave like a couple of thirteen year old girls fighting over Justin Bieber. In a lot of cases, husband and wife haven’t seen each other in awhile, and merely being in the same place at the same time is enough for them to start getting all riled up. The emotions that they’ve been dealing with become overwhelming and unbearable, so it’s understandable that, in some cases, it’s difficult to act composed and collected.
You have to prepare yourself ahead of time, because going to court can be a really overwhelming experience. It’s partially because you have to sit in front of a judge while he decides what’s going to happen with your life, but it’s also the stress of listening to your soon-to-be ex-husband’s attorney telling the court all the reasons why you’re the bad guy in terms of the breakdown of the marriage. It’s a hostile environment for sure, but you’re going to have to remain calm, hold back the tears, and refrain from rolling your eyes, sucking your teeth, and scribbling furious notes to your attorney on his legal pad.
Judges are normally uncomfortable by overt displays of emotion in their courtrooms. It’s probably because they view the cases they witness, particularly divorce cases, as business transactions, and it’s difficult for them to understand how a discussion of, for example, the division of a retirement account can reduce a person to hysterical sobbing.
Believe me, I understand. The end of a marriage is a very serious, very emotional ordeal for anyone going through it, and it can be hard to keep your cool. Still, it’s important to remember that, at least when you’re in the courtroom, you’re going to have to exert every possible effort to stay calm and collected. Remember that the judge is watching you and is making decisions about you based on your behavior in front of him. After all, it’s really the only opportunity he has to judge what went wrong.
Dress conservatively and speak politely. Don’t address your husband at all if you think you can’t do so cordially. Stay calm, even when you hear things from the other side that are inaccurate or wrong. Trust that your attorney can handle explaining the discrepancies, and that he (or she) will fight for your every advantage. Watch your tone when you’re speaking to the judge. No matter how upset or angry you may be, choose your words carefully and tell your story as honestly and truthfully as possible. Don’t follow your husband’s example if he’s behaving badly towards you. Let him prove your case for you!
Going to court is one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process, but if you go in with a plan, and you’re aware of what you should and shouldn’t do, you’ll be one step ahead.