Although most divorces are settled outside the courtroom, an already stressful situation can become overwhelming if it goes trial. While divorces are rarely ever like the heavy drama portrayed on TV or in movies, it is still important to prepare yourself before the date of your divorce trial. Contested divorces are time-consuming, expensive and emotionally draining. Being organized makes things easier for both you and your attorney, while also making a good impression on the judge. Remember, you don’t have to try every aspect of your divorce before a judge, just those that you and your ex haven’t agreed on. A contested divorce is much more than just hiring an attorney, filling out the correct paperwork and appearing in court. If your case has been scheduled for trial, here are some common things you need to know before stepping into the courtroom.
Money Changes Everything
Get your finances in order. This is one of the most important things you can do, if not the most important! One of the first things you should do is check your credit report. This is is not the time for surprises. Ask for a conference with your attorney or a financial expert about your balance sheet. Keep your attorney updated on any changes to income, assets or debt. Your finances will be put under a microscope, so make sure you have all your financial paperwork ready before the trial.
Figure out personal property items you want and how these things can be divided. The more things you and your spouse disagree on, the longer and more expensive your divorce will be. Do you really want the court getting involved in who gets the dishes? This is a good way to upset very busy court officials and a big waste of time. Prepare yourself to be willing to give and take. I can tell you from experience that family law judges and magistrates deciding results usually ends up making neither party happy.
Plan for the Future
Look ahead to one, three, five, 10 years (or more) as you think about finalizing your divorce. Figure out what assets and liabilities are most important to you and what is the least important. It will also be helpful to try to guess what will be most important to your spouse. Prioritize and develop Plan A, B, C and even plan D. Can you really afford to keep your house? Will your children have to give up after-school sports or music lessons? Do you really need both a car and a motorcycle? Credit card companies and banks don't care about your divorce. They will still expect you to pay the monthly amount you owe and pay it on time, even if you are in the middle of a divorce trial and haven't received any alimony or child support yet.
Divorce is often not only a painful process, but one you would like to get over as quickly as possible. Control your frustration and patience--the legal process can move rather slowly. Divorce issues are important and should not be rushed. The courts take on several divorce cases every day, so your time and resources are at a premium.
It's also important to know that there are actually three different opinions of your case-–yours, your spouse’s and the judge or magistrate. Don't become overconfident that the judge will rule everything in your favor. Divorce trials are not that predictable.
Be a Legal Eagle
Think about the workload that is involved in your case. The more complicated your case, the more paperwork and time will be needed. Be organized! Pay close attention to all legal documentation. Check to see that nothing has been added or removed without your knowledge. Consult with your attorney about any unfamiliar paperwork. Make copies of everything.
Keep a close tab on the attorney fees. Review your bill immediately upon receipt. Don’t be shy about asking about charges you don’t understand. Pay your bill upon receipt.
Collaborate and plan for the trial with your attorney. Discuss different possible outcomes. Make sure that your and your witnesses are prepared to testify.
Thinking about divorce? Need legal advice? Give Jack's Law Office a call at (740) 369-7567