Sunday, July 19, 2009

What to expect in Court?

When going to Court regarding divorce, your attorney should try to prepare you as much as possible as to what to expect. Besides the basics of dressing appropriately, providing copies of your evidence to the court as well as opposing attorney and your spouse, some of the general things you can expect in a Courtroom (for a final hearing) include:

1. Finality. Judges will make final decisions regarding your divorce, alimony, property division. Once that decsion is made, any choice you had is gone. Consider what is truly important to you and what you may be willing to compromise before getting to that point. Some counties require mandatory mediation and pretrial conferences, so by the time you get to a trial, you should only be dealing with issues that you can't resolve on your own.

2. Evidence. If you are alleging that your spouse makes more than they are saying, be prepared to provide documentation. You have to prove your case. Make a journal if you have to from the time you start considering divorce and obtain copies of financial documents. Keep your attorney informed of anything that might help prove what you are saying and support what you are asking for.

3. Witnesses. If you have a witness to prove a point (whether it be personal or expert), make sure your attorney has spoken with them first and bring them to court. Judges expect parties to make self serving statements to get what they want. Many times, third parties can help because they may be more objective and may prove your case.

4. Testimony. In a trial, you will likely testimy. Prepare your testimony with your attorney to stay on point with the legal issues. Most times you won't be allowed to cover every aspect of your life with your spouse. Try to stick to the issues.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

1. Judges don't (or at least shouldn't) know you or your spouse so they can't take your word for it. They can't know who to believe and you can't expect to prove you case by insisting that you are telling the truth.

2. Your attorney can't guarantee a result and sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, you still may not get what you want or feel that you are entitled to.

3. South Carolina family court hearings are determined by a Judge, not a jury. Judges are ordinary eople and you never know what testimony or evidence will be the most convincing or what the final decision will be.

4. If you have questions about your legal situation, a consultation can cost you a lot less than not doing anything until your spouse serves you with papers. Sometimes by that point, you spend the entire divorce playing catch up to your spouse who has been preparing their case before they hired an attorney.

5. Try to manage your expections. Be honest about what you want when talking to your attorney.

16 comments:

  1. I wanted to put in a good word about mediation and how it can help solve resolutions quickly and less expensively. Or Schwartzberg has written a very helpful book on divorce mediation, "Divorce Mediation from the Inside Out: A Mindful Approach to Divorce. The book even has a set of financial forms that highlight the key issues to be explored during the divorce process, in an easy-to-follow format -- they're great.

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