1. Thou shalt not bring your child to divorce court.
The ultimate interest of the divorce court is the best interest of the child. Unless it is requested by the divorce court, bringing your child to the court with you is not in the best interest of the child. Children do not need to be aware of the specific details of a divorce. The private information which parties may divulge in a divorce can cause lasting emotional and psychological damage to a child. Remember, even though you and your soon to be ex cannot stand each other, your child loves both of their parents. The love of parents is what can help a child successfully manage the minefields of divorce, and feel safe and secure throughout the process. Even though you and your spouse no longer want to continue a close relationship, your child needs a close relationship with both parents. The court does not look fondly on anyone who uses their children as props, weapons, or leverage in a divorce.
2. Thou shalt not bring your girlfriend or boyfriend to divorce court.
Your new boyfriend/girlfriend is not a party to the case, meaning they have no reason to be in the court room or at the court house for any hearing in your case. He/she will not be allowed in the courtroom unless they are a witness for one of the attorneys. His/her presence will only antagonizes the other side and complicate the proceeding. Even if they insist, tell them no. If they show up anyway, tell them to go home. Explain it is in your best interest to be divorced as quickly and painlessly as possible and by them staying home or at work they can help you do that.
3. Thou shalt not dress inappropriately.
Do not under any circumstances come to divorce court in:
- Flip flops
- Tube tops
- Bathing suits – this includes bikinis, one-pieces, etc. – if you can swim in it, don’t wear it to court!
- T-shirts (Especially, T-shirts with explicit language or illegal drugs depicted.)
- NEVER come to divorce court in a PERSONALIZED shirt with drug paraphernalia!
4. Thou shalt not come to divorce court intoxicated.
Your hearing is very important, and you should plan accordingly. Do not plan a night of partying the night before. Do not go out and get drunk. If your attorney can smell the alcohol on you, it is likely the judge and the other attorney will too. Even though you may think no one can tell you are high, on illegal drugs or legally prescribed drugs, you are very wrong. If you want to be successful in your divorce, you need to be sober and able to answer questions and make decisions. You will suffer the consequences if you come to court intoxicated including losing custody. After your divorce is over is the time to finally relax, not before.
5. Thou shalt not request a drug test, when you cannot pass a drug test.
Sometimes a spouse’s drug use is a new issue, but most often drug use is habitual in a marriage. More often than not both parties have used drugs together, or were consenting to the other party’s use. Then when they separate they will attempt to use that knowledge as leverage in custody battles, or asset negotiations. You may think, “I got him now! I will just threaten to request a drug test,” or tell the judge about her smoking pot, “then I’ll get…” This is very bad thinking.
First, you are not fooling anyone. The judge has handled numerous cases, you will not fool him/her. Second, if you have had your attorney demand your ex be drug tested, they will drug test you too. If you cannot pass a drug test, do not ask for a drug test. Third, do not think you can cheat the test. Courts are more increasingly using hair follicle testing. There are numerous shampoos and treatments available on the internet claiming they can help you beat the test. However, the reason the courts use the hair follicle test is because of the extreme difficulty in cheating. If you use drugs and you take the test, it will show. Losing custody because you think you are smarter than the court, or because you believe a claim on a bottle of shampoo that only costs you $20, is not a good feeling. Just think about what it will feel like to see your ex smile at your hearing when they pass and you don’t. Yuck!
6. Thou shalt not believe you are smarter than the judge or magistrate.
I have said this several times now. Do not hide assets. Do not lie in court. In a divorce, the judge makes the final decision – there is no jury. If you make the judge mad, or insult his intelligence, the final decision may not be in your favor.
7. Thou shalt not speak without first given permission by your attorney or the judge.
You may have heard this rule as a child, and it is never more important than in court. If you are testifying, and the attorney asks a question, then respond to the question. If the judge asks you a question, respond to the question. Other than that, keep your mouth shut. The other side may try to trick you into saying something in their favor. There are numerous issues in a divorce, just because what you say may not be important for one issue, it may be the most important in another issue. You are paying for your attorney’s knowledge and expertise, use it. You are paying them to tell you what to do, listen. Unless they tell you to speak, do not speak.
8. Thou shalt not commit perjury.
Do not lie in court. If you answer a question untruthfully, or make a false allegation or claim, you can face very serious consequences. If you lie under oath, the penalty can even include jail time. Perjury is a criminal offense, and the court can prosecute you. Perjury is bad, do not do it!
9. Thou shalt not be late to divorce court.
Remember in high school, if you were late to class, then you would get a demerit, or be sent to detention after school. As an adult, if you are late for court, there are penalties. The penalty applied is determined by the judge, but can include, the dismissal of your case, or judgment entered in favor of your ex. Even if you have never been a punctual person, be punctual during your divorce. Judges have many cases and will not make other cases wait because you had car trouble, sickness, traffic, or just couldn’t wake up on time. If you are usually 15 minutes late for everything, then plan on being at the court 30 minutes before your hearing. Being early is appreciated.
10. Thou shalt not use inappropriate language in divorce court.
Do not curse, use racial slurs, or derogatory language in describing your ex. This is easy to do, especially if you follow the 7th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak unless given permission by your attorney or the judge.”
If you are contemplating divorce or dissolution, or need an attorney’s expertise to help in any other family law matter, contact Attorney Jamie L. Anderson for a free consultation in-office or by phone. Call (937)879-9542 to schedule your free consultation today!