Your Support System: Who to Bring With You to Court, and Who to Leave at Home

It’s pretty scary to imagine going through with your divorce alone, especially if you have to go to court. Almost every single time I go to court with a client, she decides to bring a close friend or family member with her. Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, I encourage you to think carefully about who you bring with you.

I’ve had it both ways: sometimes, the person that the client brings is incredibly helpful and supportive and then, at other times, the person is unhelpful or damaging for the case.

Obviously, you want to make sure you bring a person who is going to be helpful and supportive. You want the situation to be easier for you, not harder and, since your emotions are unpredictable and fluctuating, you’ll need someone to keep you grounded. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re okay with this person hearing all sorts of details about your personal life.

You want to avoid bringing a person who is so intimately involved in the case that she (or he) can’t keep her composure during the hearing. You don’t want someone who is muttering under her breath, drawing attention to herself, or who can’t be trusted not to start an altercation in the hallways of the courthouse. This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised how often I see heated exchanges between a sister or a mother of a client and a husband. As much as I try to avoid giving people the opportunity to have these kinds of exchanges, it sometimes happens—and, trust me, it’s not going to make you look good if your family has to be escorted out of the courtroom by the bailiff.

Choose your support system wisely. If you know that the person you’d like to bring will find it hard to keep her composure, I suggest leaving her at home and calling her when you get back to your car after the hearing. Your priority should be making sure that you appear to your greatest advantage, and you really can’t do that if you are too busy trying to keep your support system quiet.

This is an emotional and difficult process, for you and for the other people in your life who love you and care deeply about your well-being. I understand that, and I understand that they want to feel like they’ve done whatever they can do to defend and support you. They support your position, they think your husband is a jerk, and they want to show the world how right you are. I understand, but I do want to impress upon you that the courtroom is the wrong place for these kinds of displays of solidarity.

If you can’t find someone who can support you and keep you grounded during the hearing, it’s best to come alone.

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