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Preparation is key if your divorce case goes to court

Most divorcing couples work to resolve their issues, with the help of their attorneys, outside of court. Litigated divorces can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. However, sometimes couples reach an impasse on an issue such as child custody, support or property division that neither one feels they can compromise on. They then turn to a judge to settle the matter.

Stepping into court can be daunting, particularly when your future or that of your children is on the line. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can alleviate a good amount of that stress. He or she will present your arguments and speak on your behalf. However, that doesn't mean that you can sit back and relax. It's essential to work with your attorney prior to your day in court.

Understand the steps involved in the process. These may include document filings, pre-trial hearings, and of course the trial itself. While your attorney will spearhead things, it's essential to know where you are in the proceedings so that you can ensure that your attorney has any information and evidence he or she needs from you.

Get involved in the discovery. Discovery is where you and your spouse provide the evidence to be used in your case. Just as your spouse and his or her attorneys are entitled to see yours, you have the right to see what your spouse's team has provided. Study it carefully so you can tell your attorney if there are inaccurate or missing documents (such as bank statements) or if false information was provided.

Prepare yourself emotionally for your court date(s), whether you'll just be sitting at a table or providing testimony. While this is an emotional time, you don't help your case by letting your anger, sadness or other emotions get the better of you. If you don't think you can hold it together, seeing a therapist ahead of time can help you sort through your feelings so they don't bubble up at the wrong time or place.

If you'll be testifying, your attorney will likely practice with you so that you're prepared to state your case and answer questions from your spouse's attorney and the judge without getting rattled or contradicting yourself. The more prepared you are, the more likely it is that the matter will be decided in your favor or that your spouse may end up deciding to settle with you.

Source: Huffington Post, "Are You Prepared for Your Day in (Divorce) Court?," Bari Zell Weinberger, Esq., accessed Jan. 25, 2017

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