What to Expect in Divorce Court
Although most people view marriage and divorce as separate components of a personal relationship, the law views a marriage as a legal union and a divorce as a legal termination of that union. Divorce is never an easy choice and the court process can be complicated and confusing. Arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible will make the process more understandable. Marriage and divorce are both governed by state statutes and not Federal law which means that the rules will vary depending on where you live but that the general concepts will be similar. No matter how long you have been separated from your spouse, every state in the union requires a divorce decree signed by a judge before the marriage is considered to be legally terminated.
The judge in a divorce court has the final say in the terms of your divorce. If you hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce, your lawyer’s job is to act in your best interest. While your attorney is not allowed to break the law for you, they do have an obligation to act within legal guidelines, in your best interests. Similarly, your spouse’s lawyer will be looking out for their best interests as well. The judge is there to make sure the terms of the divorce comply with state laws and make the final decisions in matters like spousal support, alimony, child custody and the division of marital assets.
Once you are in court, the easiest way to antagonize a judge is to argue with your spouse in open proceedings or to speak while someone else is speaking. Despite turbulent emotions that might be present, it is always better to remain calm. If you are handling your own case with help from an online divorce document service, the best thing you can do in court is not to speak until you have been asked a specific question by the judge.
If you do have a lawyer, he is there to speak on your behalf and will understand what information the court needs to make a legal determination. Even if you feel your spouse is not being honest with the court, it is imperative that you wait for your time to speak.
It can really pay off to be prepared for your appearance in court. If you feel your spouse owes money on any joint bills, be sure to bring the most current statements on those accounts. A judge will not accept your best guess on how much money you and your spouse might have or owe. Bring a copy of your lease or mortgage, phone and utility bills and your most recent pay stubs. Also, make sure any witnesses you intend to call on your behalf are actually present in court. Judges do not like surprises, and they don’t appreciate people who are unprepared and waste the courts’ time.