There is no question that divorce is an emotional subject. Many couples enter the divorce process confused, angry and upset about a relationship that has them going to court. A dissolving or broken relationship, the stress of a major life change and challenge of court is a whirlwind of activity and it can bring out powerful feelings.
While it’s natural to have these feelings, divorce court is an analytical process where finances, property division and child custody are the primary topics. Courtrooms are serious, formal and direct. Impressions and how you present yourself matter along with all the financial details and sordid personal matters. Inappropriate behavior in court can be costly.
You only make one first impression.
While many people think they can represent themselves in court, knowledge of the law and experience are essential for a fair divorce settlement. Even with professional representation, many divorcing individuals don’t present themselves in their best light.
Earlier this year, Huffington Post Divorce compiled a list of nine easily avoidable mistakes that people frequently make. There are two common themes to the list.
First, preparation is important. Self-representation is especially vulnerable in this regard, because if a judge asks a question and you have no answer ready, it reflects poorly. It’s essential to have the right paperwork filed and have all financial information up-to-date and at the ready. For those who work with a lawyer, you need to meet in advance to discuss your strategy and practice responses. If you aren’t on the same page, you’re essentially representing yourself.
The second major theme is personal behavior. How you dress, how you carry yourself and how you speak will influence what people think. While financial assets and the events leading to your divorce are the major points, if you act disrespectfully it will likely impact the hearing. Dressing casually, interrupting people or leaving your cell phone on will alienate the people you’re trying to win over.
Put a wall between facts and emotions.
Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. While divorce judges have seen and heard it all, your actions influence their perception—including your ability to be a good parent or make sound financial decisions. While you are going through a range of personal emotions, you need a wall between your personal feelings and your public appearance. By hiring a divorce lawyer, you aren’t just getting adding valuable courtroom experience, you’re adding a neutral voice to speak for your situation and to separate your personal feelings from the hard facts about your divorce.