10 Essentials to Make Sure You Come Out on Top In Your Divorce Hearin

In a divorce case, the hearings can vary, but the principles outlined below will help you come out on top regardless of the type of hearing you will be participating in.

  1. Know the Type of Hearing.  The most important step in preparing for a successful hearing is asking your attorney to explain to you the type of hearing that you will have and what will be expected from you.  For example, and initial calendar call and meet and confer may be fairly simple.  Further down the line, if you end up in a trial, you may need significant preparation.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to know before you go whether your attorney plans to have you testify, and if so, what topics will be covered.  Preparation is the most important key to success.
  2. Be On Time.  Being on time seems like a simple plan, but it is surprising how many people struggle with being on time to a court hearing.  You need to plan extra time for traffic, finding your way, and parking.  You do not want to be rushed.  In many courtrooms, you will need to leave your cell phone and any other electronic devices in the car.  If you want to bring those items in, plan extra time, in case you are told no, and sent back to your car.
  3. Look Professional.  Your appearance is the first impression any attorney or judge will get from you, so make sure that you are clean, neat, and professional.
  4. Be Organized.  If your attorney hasn’t already collected the relevant documents from you and has requested that you bring certain documentation to court, then it’s imperative that you remember to bring it.  Make extra copies so that you have enough to share.  Have them organized so that you can easily find what you are looking for.
  5. Don’t Expect to Be the Only Case.  Some parties are disappointed to find out that they aren’t the only case of the day.  There are often many cases on the docket, and you likely won’t have a choice about when yours is heard.  When you know what to expect, you can come with the patience to approach your hearing in a calm and collected manner.  A cool demeanor will present you and your case in the best light.
  6. Know Your Facts.  You need to read and understand everything that has happened, everything that has been filed on your behalf, and everything that your attorney may want you to testify about.  You are the expert on your own case and you can leverage that expertise to assist your attorney in representing you well.
  7. Know and Understand Everything Your Spouse’s Attorney has Filed. In addition to knowing your own facts, you need to know where and how your spouse’s story differs from yours.  Understanding his or her arguments will help you and your attorney to work together to show why your version of the facts is correct.
  8. Tell the Truth.  If you are telling a story at the dinner table, a little embellishment might make the tale better.  In court, stick with the cold, hard truth. It is difficult for the other side to poke holes in the truth.  If you exaggerate or outright lie, you expose yourself to impeachment, which will only reflect poorly on you and your case.
  9. Be Reasonable.  Divorce cases can be highly emotional because they involve finances and children, broken promises and shattered dreams.  Remember that your divorce hearing isn’t therapy.  You are here to get the best outcome.  Consider ahead of time what an acceptable settlement would be and discuss that with your attorney.  Try to think ahead about what your ex-spouse’s sticking points will be and strategize with your counsel on how to overcome his or her objections. Although challenging, try to think of the hearing as a business negotiation rather than a war with your ex.
  10. Prepare with Intellect not Emotion.  Use your head and not your heart in a divorce hearing.  Understand and anticipate the type of hearing it will be and cater your arguments to the type that will be well-received by the court.  For example:
    • Child custody – In a child custody case, the focus will be on the health, education, safety, general welfare of the child.  Any argument or testimony should be focused on the best interest of the child, and anything that appears revenge-motivated or manipulative will only reflect poorly on the party presenting it.
    • Temp child support or spousal support – In a temp child support or spousal support where the worker is an employee, this will typically be decided by a mathematical formula, but if self-employment or fluctuating income are involved, this may require more preparation to present to the Court what appropriate spousal support should be.

If you follow the advice in this article, you will likely be well-prepared for a successful hearing.  The most important tip, though, is to thoroughly consult with your attorney so that he or she can guide you in the specifics of your case.