Thanks to Mark Pfenning, a divorce lawyer and author who has published many articles geared toward helping parties through the divorce process. His recent article, Divorce Courtroom Tips, provides some helpful strategies and a useful summary of the basic rules of decorum in family court. Here’s what Mark has to say:
- Settle Some Things. This means the judge won’t be in control of everything.
- Expect Unfavorable Decisions. There are three directions the judge can go when making a decision: Your way, your spouse’s way, or the Judge’s way. As you can see, two out three are not in your favor.
- Let Your Divorce Attorney Do the Talking. Do not speak unless asked to do so by the Judge.
- Respect is an Absolute. When addressing the Judge with respect by addressing him/her as “Your Honor.”
- Don’t Address Your Spouse. Never speak to or make comments to your spouse when you are before the Judge.
- Check Your Emotions at the Door. Do not make faces or gestures when the judge or your spouse’s attorney is speaking. Judges see this and do not appreciate it.
- Dress for the Occasion. Your attorney will have a certain strategy on how he/she wants you to be portrayed. Therefore, consult your attorney on how he/she wants you to dress.
- Write. Don’t leave anything to chance. Your attorney will be very busy during the process and cannot remember or write everything down.
- Come Prepared. Bring as much information, documentation and any pertinent documents that you possibly can with you. It is better to have too much ammunition than not enough.
- Be Ready to Wait. You will sometimes wait for hours before your case is called.
Good suggestions. We would also suggest leaving all digital devices in the car. We recall a lawyer whose cell phone rang in the middle of his intense cross examination of our client in a recent trial. The more memorable impression was the expression on the judge’s face.