At some point, you may have to make a court appearance during your divorce case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have to sit in the witness chair and give testimony.
Clients are often nervous about this part of the divorce process, especially if it is the first time they have gone before a judge. If you want to make a positive impression on the judge, being prepared, dressing appropriately, and managing your emotions will go a long way towards helping you to have a successful divorce court appearance. Follow these five tips, along with the guidance and advice from your Annapolis divorce attorney, and you should feel confident and prepared to appear in court.
1. Consult with your Annapolis divorce attorney
When you must appear in court, your divorce lawyer will take the time to explain what is going to happen at the hearing, what is required of you, and what you can expect to happen. If you will be testifying, your attorney can help you prepare for the types of questions you might be asked.
One important note: if anything changes in the days before your appearance, make sure to update your attorney. This could mean bringing updated paperwork or documentation to your consultation, or simply calling the office. It is important that you and your divorce lawyer are on the same page at all times, so make sure to keep everyone abreast of any changes.
2. Prepare your talking points
Know what you are going to say and practice answering questions from your lawyer before you go to court. Be sure to review any paperwork you have, especially if there is a police report, so that your answers remain factually accurate.
3. Dress appropriately
An important part of making a good impression is being appropriately dressed, and a judge will take notice of how you present yourself. You want to come across as confident and dignified. A suit and tie for men, and business attire for women, will show that you understand the seriousness of what is happening.
4. Be respectful, but say as little as possible
Speak in a civil, respectful way to the judge and everyone else in the courtroom. Divorce is emotional, and we understand how easy it is to become overwhelmed. However, if you lose your temper, or begin behaving inappropriately, it will not help your case.
When asked a question, always respond with the truth. Listen carefully and answer the question that is being asked. Clients often have the urge to explain themselves further, but the best thing you can do is speak clearly and concisely. If you do not understand a question, or if you need time to compose yourself, ask for the question to be repeated.
5. Be aware of your reactions and body language
Even while you are sitting in court listening and observing, your body language and your reactions are being observed. Avoid looking cross, rolling your eyes or shaking your head in disgust or disagreement. You want the judge to see you remaining calm and poised, being respectful and speaking with confidence, despite how nervous or angry you might be feeling. When the hearing is over, you can go and vent your frustrations with your friends. For the moment, being prepared, having a plan for how you will respond to questions, and projecting a strong, confident demeanor will ensure that you make an excellent impression in a Maryland divorce hearing.
Feeling nervous or a bit overwhelmed about appearing in court is natural. Working with the right attorney can help assuage those fears, and prepare you for what is to come. The experienced Annapolis divorce lawyers at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC are here to be your advocate and work toward the best possible outcome for you. To schedule an initial consultation at our office in Annapolis, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form.