Most of us never dream of seeing the inside of a courtroom once in our lives, let alone the many times we’ve experienced over the course of our high-conflict divorce and child custody proceedings.
If you haven’t yet had that experience but are aware that the day is coming, it behooves you to do a little groundwork and find out how it all functions in divorce and/or child custody family court. There, you can learn what to expect from judges. You can see how attorneys operate which is particularly helpful if you have not yet retained legal representation but intend to. You can learn common divorce and child custody trial language and procedures. It’s extremely important that you learn and begin to understand as much as possible about divorce and family court. It’s another way for you to be better prepared and hopefully obtain a better outcome in your case.
Though it takes time, we regular make suggestions to anyone involved in divorce and child custody litigation to take the time and spend a day (or more) at the local court house. You go to the court and if it can be planned appropriately – observe the judge who is or will be presiding over your case. Watch that judge all day long or for as long as you can get away with sitting in the gallery as an observer. Watch how the judge rules on the cases that pass before you. Watch how the judge treats the evidence. Watch how that courtroom flows. Some judges are very process-oriented, some allow a lot of leeway, particularly when you are representing yourself in a divorce and/or child custody proceeding. Watch how the attorneys object. Note the issue about which they are objecting and on what grounds. Note how the judge rules on the objection. Bottom line – learn your judge.
If you are seeking to obtain legal representation, this exercise works just as well. Learn the attorneys. Observe which ones interact well with the judge and vice versa. Observe which ones garner respect from the judge. Observe which attorneys appear well-prepared and which ones are not. Observe how the attorneys interact with the other court personnel – the bailiff, the clerks, the administrators, etc. Watch they work. Take notes. Get to understand how the judge, the attorneys, the courtroom, and how the entire courthouse work for both divorce and child custody cases. You may find that they function quite differently in your jurisdiction.
This will undoubtedly require investing at least one day of your time. If you can get to the courthouse to observe divorce and child custody proceedings on more than one day, your education about all of the players within the system will be greatly increased. We assure you, it’s well worth the investment of your time.