If you and your spouse are embroiled a divisive divorce, you may find yourself scheduled for a trial. Family court is somewhat different than what you may have seen on television crime dramas and reality TV, and it helps to know what to expect ahead of time. Read on for some tips on dealing with your divorce trial and your time before the family court judge.
High Security: If you have entered a courthouse lately, you probably have a good idea of what to expect in terms of security. You will need to pass through a metal detector and empty your pockets. Any bags will need to be x-rayed as well. Some courtrooms even employ entry checks that rival the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including having to remove your footwear. Plan ahead for delays to avoid being late, and be ready to leave weapons or anything that might be considered a weapon at home. If your court start time is 10am, for example, show up at about 9:30 to enter the building. There will be lines and delays, you can count on it, and no one cares that you'll be late for court.
Don't Expect a Jury: Family law cases are heard exclusively by judges and judges only (or another single official, like a commissioner). This does simplify matters, since you will be able to turn and speak directly to the judge when on the stand instead of constantly swiveling your head.
There Could be an Audience: In some cases, your time in front of the judge is anything but private. Not only are the courts open to observers and the curious, you may be sharing court time with other family law cases. If you are there for something quick, like a custody hearing, it may be over in a matter of minutes, and you may find the courtroom filled with participants for other cases. Be prepared to wait your turn and be aware that others can hear your testimony. This can be a positive feature if you feel the need to bring some friends or family to support you, but avoid bring a whole posse of people with you to court.
Locate Your Place: Trying to find the right courtroom can seem overwhelming and confusing, particularly when you're stressed out and nervous anyway. Your attorney may know in advance what courtroom is being used, but if not, take a look at the list of hearings posted on the outside in the hallways each morning. Once you locate your correct courtroom, be aware of which side to sit on when you enter the room. There is a Petitioner's table and a Respondent's table, and in some cases you will see signs designating the side. By the way, the person that filed for divorce in the first place is known as the petitioner.
Speak to your divorce attorney, like those at DeSanto and Kellogg Law Office LLC, to learn more about your first day in court and what to expect.