If you’re going through a divorce and children are involved, you’ll probably have to make an appearance in family court. Follow these tips to make the process as pain-free as possible.
1. Show up in court early. The doors will open before your time to appear in court and you’ll have to wait on line first. Bring something to keep you busy while you wait, like a book.
2. Whenever possible, don’t bring your children to court. Many courts have a children’s area where you can leave your kids during the proceedings.
3. Always dress professionally and neatly. For example, never wear flip-flops or shorts. If you’re wearing a hat, be prepared to remove it.
4. Keep everything organized, ideally in a binder. Include court documents, journal entries, copies of receipts, and anything else you’ll need. Also include certificates that prove you’ve completed required programs, such as parenting classes. As you accumulate papers from family court, keep them in the binder as well.
5. Always stay composed in family court, even if you’re not happy with what’s going on or what your spouse is saying. It’s important to leave your emotions outside of the court and to remain professional when in front of the judge.
6. Never interrupt the judge or one of the lawyers when they’re speaking. You’ll be given the opportunity to speak, so make sure to jot down notes if you want to remember to say something specific.
7. Bring papers that you want the judge to see, but be prepared that they won’t always read them. Make sure the papers are neat and in order, clearly labeled, and typed instead of handwritten.
8. If you feel like you need to communicate with your lawyer before appearing in family court, setup a time ahead of time. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to speak with them once you arrive in court.
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