Prepping for Your Divorce Trial: Top 5 Tips (from a divorce lawyer) What you Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, Part III

Walking into a courtroom for your divorce trial can be daunting, especially if you don't know what to expect.

In this third and final installment of our series "What you Need to Know about Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You," Hightower Reff Law partner attorney Tracy Hightower shares her top 5 tips so you can prep for your divorce trial.

Here are Tracy's top 5:

Prepping for your Divorce Trial: Top 5 Tips (from a divorce lawyer)

1. Block your calendar

Plan to devote the day to your divorce trial

  • Make plans in advance to take time off from work
  • Be proactive - ask your attorney if they need time to meet with you before trial day to prepare you for your testimony or other things
  • Don't be surprised if the original trial date gets continued (moved to another day) at the last minute, or if you don't finish in one day

2. Prep for live testimony

Witnesses for you or for your spouse will testify in person before the judge. You and your spouse will likely testify as well.

  • In "temporary" hearings you may have had during your divorce pre-trial motions, your lawyer probably presented evidence on your behalf by affidavit. That's a written document, signed under oath. Trials are different.
  • At trial, witnesses testify in person. Affidavits aren't allowed.

3. Your lawyer may not call all the witnesses you want - and that's okay

Your lawyer will only call the best witnesses. That almost always means witnesses with firsthand, personal knowledge.

  • In a nutshell, your witness must have firsthand, personal knowledge to testify. They can't testify about out of court statements of others, or information they got from another person.
  • The most basic first step in determining if a testimony from a witness may be hearsay is to figure out whether the witness was the originator of the information. If not, it's probably hearsay.
  • For example, your mom can't testify about your pediatrician's opinion that your son's asthma is aggravated during visits to the other parent's house.
  • There are other things that go into a hearsay determination, and it can get complicated.
  • Tell your attorney about the possible witnesses you believe may have personal knowledge relevant to the issues of your divorce. It's their job to figure out who's to testify at trial.

4. Dress your best

The impression you make on the court is important. Appearance and grooming are key.

  • Your lawyer won't come to court in jeans or a team sweatshirt. They dress to show respect for the court and to present a professional image for their clients and for themselves. If you do the same on trial day, you can't go wrong.
  • The court will be assessing your credibility and perhaps your fitness as a parent. Making a good first impression by dressing appropriately and respectfully can only help boost your credibility. (Maybe leave the banana gun at home though. And if you wear a wig, try for a better one than our friend here.)

5. Control your face

No matter what unbelievably shocking stupidity comes out of your spouse's mouth, try to keep a straight face.

  • If you roll your eyes or make weird faces, the judge will see it. Most times, that isn't a good thing. As hard as it may be, try to keep a neutral face - or at least not look like this (or anything close.)
  • Crying is okay. Divorces are emotional. The judge understands. You can be authentically emotional in court, you just can't be rude or out of control. If you feel you need a few minutes, let your attorney know.

If you have questions before your divorce trial, don't be afraid to ask your divorce attorney. They are there to support you through the process.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.

If you missed part I of the series:

To catch up with part II:

Author: Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower-Henne


Created with images by stevepb - "divorce separation marriage breakup" • PIRO4D - "alarm clock winter time change time conversion" • Phil Roeder - "Black & White Justice" • RyanMcGuire - "suit business man business"

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