Family Court is an experience. Once you find yourself in enthralled in the experience it is imperative that you prepare yourself. There are often more questions than answers and this causes even more tension. The way you speak, the attitude you present, the thoughts you share – these all play an integral part in how your case is received and how it is viewed from the court’s perspective. So I wanted to take time to share some things with you based on the various roles I played in the family law arena. So learn these family court practical tips here:
Family Court Practical Tips
There’s a strategy to effective communication with anyone in Family Court, your ex or soon to be ex, lawyers, judges etc. The first thing, that I notice most people fail at, is LISTENING with objectivity. Way too often we focus on the lies, the put downs, etc. so we formulate a response while the other person is talking. This has been proven to be ineffective in custody and divorce cases. It’s not easy, especially when dealing with a manipulative, controlling opponent but it’s something you MUST learn to master if you want to prevail. Family law is the most volatile area of law, so it brings out a variety of emotions. But not being able to put emotions in check can ruin any intentions of reaching your goals. So let the lies be told, let the accusations flow and when it’s your turn you address them with a focused mindset.
One thing I do consistently to master this is anticipating the worse and practice my reaction. I do this as often as I need to until my body gives me the sign that it’s “OK”. It works!
Etiquette in the Courtroom:
Way too often Family Court litigants complain that the judge does not or did not listen to any of their major concerns when it came to their divorce or custody case. Although family court judges get the worst wrap in the judicial system, they are human. They can empathize with you if you learn to speak their “language”. There is a decorum and protocol that should be used when dealing with the court.
Here are some key tips:
- Always address them with respect using “Your Honor”, “Your Magistrate”, etc.
- Don’t ever let your emotions cloud your judgment. (This is not the same as not showing emotions. Showing emotions can be a good thing at times.)
- Be persistent with the issue you are trying to get their attention on. This does not mean to ignore what the court is asking or emphasizing. It means being adamant about stating your concerns within the parameters established.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS show the court that you are willing to work on a resolution. Now is not the time to be insistent on things going your way. If your ex or soon to be ex is the one being difficult, let them be the one to show that to the court. You don’t have to be the one to say that they are not cooperating.
- If you see the judge leaning in a particular direction with a decision that is not in your favor, offer a compromise that addresses exactly what he/she is concerned about. For example, if the court has an issue with the fact that the other parent/party is not getting enough time without having overnight, then offer an extra day, more hours, video chats, etc. Do NOT disregard the court’s concerns by making excuses for not going along.
Presenting Your Case:
It’s prudent to give a lot of attention to HOW you present your case in Family Court because things can backfire on you in an instant. (Read more here on what choosing your language carefully.) It is no secret that I focus primarily on strategy in my work to show Family Court Practical Tips to my clients. So, a large part of how I help clients has to do with “packaging” their case in a way that is going to increase their chances of getting the best outcomes.
So, your concerns, your interests, your objectives all need to be carefully prepared. Preparation, organization, formulation all plays an extremely role in how the case proceeds from beginning to resolution.
Take the time to carefully, I mean carefully map out how you will present your case. It takes knowledge, guidance, and persistence to be able to do this correctly. Come up with a strategy and stick to it. Be sure to include how you will carry out every step of the strategy. You can’t anticipate EVERYTHING, but you can keep an open mind and be ready to react when necessary if your strategic plan is rock solid.
There are tons of tips I can give that will help you get better outcomes in your case. I can focus on explaining the law but that’s not going to help you as much as giving tips on strategy.
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