“Preparing Yourself For Family Law Court”

So you’ve got a court date and you’re heading to talk to a family law judge. How should you prepare? What do you need to know?

First, some practical details. Know where you are going. Know where the parking is. (Many courthouses are in crowded downtown areas where parking is difficult.) Leave yourself some extra time. Be on time.

Second, dress for the part. Appearances matter. Dress professionally, as if you were going to a job interview. The courtroom is a formal place and dressing properly shows the court that you respect the courtroom and the process.

Third, bring any evidence that you intend to present along with 3 copies. This allows the judge to make sure everyone has a copy of what is being presented. Do NOT bring pictures (or even videos) on your cell phone, texts on your cell phone, or pay stubs on an online portal. Print them out. Make it easy.

Fourth, wait until the judge is ready to hear from you. Judges HATE being interrupted, and there is an order that the court will use to hear evidence. Interrupting the process is a no-no.

Fifth, be prepared for some delays. It is possible that your evidence will not be heard because the judge is going to appoint minor’s counsel, a court investigator, or order counseling. If that happens, your case will not be heard and you will be given a new court date. This is not uncommon. It happens quite frequently.

Six, don’t make faces at the judge. This may seem silly, but I have seen innumerable litigants sighing, rolling their eyes, turning away from the judge, or holding their hands up in mock disbelief. Believe me, this does NOTHING for your case and will really irritate the judge.

Seven, be respectful of everyone. This includes your ex. Yelling and arguing will not help your case, but it WILL make you appear aggressive and difficult to the judge.

Eighth, answer the question asked directly. Don’t tell long stories, argue with the question, or try to evade. The judge will understand what is happening immediately. Try to answer questions as directly and truthfully as you can.

Ninth, have a plan. Know what information you want to give to the judge, prioritize it, start with the most important items first, and calmly present your information.

Tenth, know when you are in over your head. Many hearings involve evidence and witnesses that must be carefully presented. It can be extremely difficult to present it in accordance with the rules of evidence on your own, and if your case has a lot of information that needs to be presented, rather than just direct testimony about things you have seen, get legal counsel. You only get one chance to present your evidence, and you do not want to waste your chance because you did not understand the technicalities of having the judge consider it.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

NOTICE: This blog and all materials on our website constitute advertisement materials, and the promulgation of such materials is meant for the residents of the State of California only. The attorneys and this firm do not practice law in any other state. In addition, the promulgation of these articles does not in any way create an attorney-client relationship and any inquiries and information you may send to the attorneys should be general and not specific, as they are not confidential.