You have hired an attorney, maybe you have been to mediation, and now you are going to your first divorce hearing. It might be a hearing for temporary custody or temporary alimony or it could be that you have skipped the temporary hearings and you are going straight to trial on custody or support. Either way, I’m sure you are nervous and a little unsure about what is going to happen. Here are 5 Tips on how to keep your cool during a court hearing or trial.
- Breathe. I know this one may seem silly but people have a tendency to hold their breath when they are nervous or scared. The last thing you want to do during your hearing is pass out. Breathe in through your nose and out softly through your mouth. No one will be able to tell you are doing this and it will help lower your blood pressure and make you feel calm.
- Dress nicely but wear something that is comfortable for you. If you aren’t a three-piece suit kind of guy, your first court hearing isn’t the place to try out a new suit. For men, slacks and a dress shirt are normally fine. For women, a blouse and slacks or skirt will be fine. Remember the courtroom can be cold or hot, so wear a jacket or sweater that you can take off during breaks if things get too hot.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know it’s hard when you are listening to your soon-to-be ex spouse saying snide things about you on the witness stand but keep your composure. It’s likely that much of what he/she is saying won’t make a difference to the judge.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is especially important when you are nervous or scared. Often times the court staff will put water and cups on the table for you but if they don’t get a sip from the water fountain during breaks. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a healthy snack such as a granola bar that you can eat during a break if you don’t have time for a real lunch. A day in court can be surprisingly exhausting. Fueling your body can make it a bit easier.
- Be ready. Before you ever get into a courtroom hearing you should talk with your attorney about what is going to happen and what you need to do to be prepared. Sometimes attorneys who have done this a hundred times forget the small stuff that may leave you feeling unprepared. Things such as which side goes first? (usually the plaintiff) And, why does the judge call the attorneys up to where he sits? (usually to make an evidentiary ruling but sometimes just to ask about an unrelated matter) Make a list of questions and bring it with you to talk with your divorce lawyer several days before your hearing. Knowing the procedural parts of the hearing will make you more comfortable when you are actually in the courtroom.
Following these 5 Tips won’t guarantee you success in the courtroom but they will make your first court hearing a little easier for you.